Leeds United youngster challenged to push on after taste of first team under Marcelo Bielsa
Stuart McKinstry has had a taste of what it is like to play for Leeds United - now he’s being challenged to use that as motivation.
The 19-year-old Scot was handed a first appearance for the Whites last month at Fulham, stepping off the bench in the League Cup clash at Craven Cottage.
Against Fulham he came into a tight game with the Championship outfit, being thrust in a pressurised situation even before the later penalty shoot-out, but showed few signs of nerves.
He was hungry for the ball and keen to get involved in attacks as Leeds looked for a winner inside 90 minutes. And when it came to penalties, he took the long walk from halfway and produced a 12-yard finish that held composure far beyond his years - celebrating in front of the home crowd in style.
McKinstry has had to bide his time for inclusion under manager Marcelo Bielsa, having made the move south of the border from Motherwell to West Yorkshire aged just 16.
The switch from Fir Park to Elland Road has been beneficial and was seen as a long-term investment in LS11 - arriving with the raw talent of a wide man before moving inside to learn the ropes in a more central role.
McKinstry has become a development regular under academy coach Mark Jackson in recent seasons but faces a tough battle to break into the Premier League set-up on a weekly basis.
His performances, though, haven’t gone unnoticed in the Premier League 2 or beyond. He was particularly impressive against Leicester City last time out in league action at the King Power stadium before the international break in a 45-minute, planned appearance.
“Stuart is another young player who has had a taste of it,” Jackson said of the Scot.
“He’s another one who needs to continue his development and continue working hard. It’s our job as a staff to keep him on track and keep him hungry to want to develop further. At times when he’s coming off at half-time he might be a bit frustrated because he wanted more of it but that’s what these young players have to get used to.
“They’ve got to learn how to impact games in the period they’re on the pitch.”
McKinstry’s first taste of football for Leeds saw him deployed as a wide man, though at Thorp Arch his learning has been across the whole midfield and even, on rare occasions, at full-back.
“With any young player you see traits in them where they can play different positions,” Jackson continued.
“It’s really important at our football club that we have players who are adaptable.
“We look at the traits they have physically. There’s no doubt Stuart can operate in wide positions and he can also operate in the middle of the park as well. I think, over time, he’s becoming more reliable in the middle of the park from a defensive point of view.
"It’s still something he’s got to work on. He’s got creativity on the ball and has elements all throughout his game: physical, technical and tactical.
“He’s got elements that we see a good player in and he has to bring them out of himself and develop them and keep on striving.”