Why Ben White's impressive Leeds United start is no surprise to former boss Michael Flynn

Leeds United loanee Ben White. (AHPIX LTD)
Leeds United loanee Ben White. (AHPIX LTD)
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Ben White's decision making ability as a Newport player meant his impressive Championship debut for Leeds came as no surprise to Michael Flynn.

White was just 19 when he was dropped into the muddy waters of League Two football.

It's a difficult environment for any teenager who plunges down the levels for a loan spell in the EFL's bottom tier.

But for a centre-half, marking wily, battle harded veterans like Chris Porter and Tom Pope, ex Premier League strikers like Shola Ameobi or physical specimens like Chris O'Grady, it's sink or swim.

White's fifth game for the Exiles was at Elland Road in the EFL Cup.

Kemar Roofe helped himself to a hat-trick, but Flynn said White's faith in his own ability was already evident in what the Newport boss calls 'real football.'

"Straight away we could see, he held his own in League Two and not just in League Two; he held his own against very good players, ie when he played against Leeds in the cup and when we played against Tottenham," said Flynn.

"He was marking Harry Kane for a lot of that and you could see nothing fazed him, he had confidence in his own ability."

There's a worry, for fans and managers alike, that their shiny new loan signings from Premier League or Championship clubs won't be able to handle the hustle and bustle of the lower leagues.

Some of the football can be direct, in the extreme.

Lots of high balls, lots of centre forwards setting out to bully and dominate defenders.

White, however, coped with everything League Two could throw at him.

On and off the pitch, he impressed Flynn with the decisions he made.

"Players can be very technical and not be ready physically," said Flynn.

"It's not just League Two, even in League One and the Championship it's a very fast and furious game.

"He can handle himself physically, he can handle himself technically.

"Every time he chose the right decision with things like whether or not to be on time, extra training and learning.

"If he made a mistake he'd be the first one to hold his hands up and try not to do it again.

"He's a very intelligent footballer."

Flynn credits White's family for instilling 'good values' in him and Brighton for surrounding him with 'good people.'

Ultimately, however, White's rise through the EFL ranks - a spell in League One followed his time at Newport and set him up for a loan move to Championship Leeds - is down to what made him a very easy player to manage.

"He has got stacks of ability, very level headed, no ego, he was a joy to work with day in and day out," said Flynn.

"He was marvellous for us, he had an opportunity to leave us in the January but he didn't want to, he wanted to continue his learning.

"He's a very loyal boy because he thought we gave him his chance, his debut in the league and he wanted to repay us.

"For me that goes to show exactly what kind of character he is says a lot about the boy he is, there's a lot who would have left in January and looked to go to a League One club or take it easy back at Brighton, he he didn't want to, he wanted to be part of what we were doing, try and help us get into the play-offs."

Replacing Pontus Jansson in the Leeds backline will be no easy task for a 21-year-old, particularly one with no Championship experience prior to this season.

But Flynn believes the centre-half has had a good education in the game already, with input, of varying degrees, from some big names.

"The thing is, the managers he would have played for or been around.

"He'd have had Chris Hughton, who I think is an excellent manager, Graeme Potter has gone there and I know Graeme, I know he's a very good coach and gets the best out of his players, (White has) come down and worked with myself and handled that, now he's in Leeds with Bielsa.

"He's had four completely different characters and four different ways of looking at things but that can only stand him in good stead, because if he can learn off each of us and keep progressing he's going to be in a very, very strong position."

White made his first appearance for Leeds in a 3-1 win at Bristol City on the opening day of the season and took the plaudits for a performance that was cool, calm and collected.

It may have been a pleasant surprise for Whites fans but Flynn has come to expect good things from his former player.

He expects there's even more to come.

"I definitely wasn't surprised with how well he did against Bristol City and how he handled the occasion of his Leeds debut.

"I texted him after the game.

"He was unbelievable. Such a mature Championship debut. He took everything in his stride.

"As long as he continues to do that, he'll go to the top I think.

"He's someone I'll always keep an eye out for."