Leeds United youngster latest in position switch as Marcelo Bielsa tests academy products

Stuart McKinstry is the latest Leeds United youngster to be tried and tested out of his comfort zone.

By Joe Urquhart
Friday, 28th January 2022, 11:41 am
Updated Friday, 28th January 2022, 11:42 am

The 19-year-old arrived in West Yorkshire as a winger from Motherwell but has found a chunk of game time in the middle of the club’s development midfield more recently.

On Monday, the Scot found himself in relatively new surroundings at right-back against Blackburn Rovers as Leeds continued to work on his versatility and adaptation into the Whites’ system.

It is a trait of Mark Jackson’s Under-23s that games are often used to test out Elland Road’s rising stars in new areas – pushing the limits of what they thought they knew.

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Leeds United academy prospect Stuart McKinstry. Pic: Getty

The idea is that it prepares youngsters for life in the first-team set-up, of which Stuart Dallas and Jamie Shackleton can attest, having found opportunities in various areas of the pitch.

McKinstry has been one of those in and around Bielsa’s senior squad this season, making one appearance each in the Premier League and EFL Cup.

He was set to come on in injury time against Newcastle United last weekend until a late change of plan in defeat to the Magpies.

A 45-minute role as a wing-back in Premier League 2 is an experience he has not often experienced and it is one which brought a strong test in a disappointing 4-0 defeat over the Pennines.

“It was a chance to see him in that position. The manager [Bielsa] wants to look at him there,” head coach Jackson told the YEP post-match.

“It’s one of the things we always do.

“In the second half, there were a few more shifts [in position] from the players but it’s just part of their education to play different roles on the pitch and experience different situations.

“None of that influenced the result. It was clear why they got the result tonight. They wanted it more.”

Jackson has previously spoken about the Scot’s push towards senior football in LS11.

McKinstry must work hard if he wants to continue his ascent into Premier League football and beyond.

“He’s another one who needs to continue his development and continue working hard,” the Under-23s boss said recently. “It’s our job, as a staff, to keep him on track and keep him hungry to want to develop further.

“It’s really important at our football club that we have players who are adaptable.”

Another of those who moved around throughout the Rovers fixture was Nohan Kenneh – a player who can play in central midfield and defence. The 19-year-old is among a group of players fighting to prove their futures lie in West Yorkshire with his current deal up in the summer.

Kenneh has been a regular among the club’s development outfit, making 16 appearances among some top-flight squad inclusions.

“Nohan’s played centre-back and in the No 4 position throughout his time at Leeds,” Jackson added.

“He played two positions tonight, he started off as No 4 and dropped back into centre-back. Like I said before, it’s a strategy we utilise a lot and the manager wants to see players in different positions and that’s just Nohan being one of them tonight