Alfie McCalmont joined Oldham Athletic on loan in the summer from Leeds United with his career at a cross roads. Having become a veteran in the club’s Under-23 side, he simply was failing to break into the senior side – but Tuesday night’s display might have just given him a new lease of life.
Now a fully-fledged Northern Ireland international, 20-year-old McCalmont was the darling of Carlos Corberan’s Under-23 side – while the Spaniard worked as manager of the second string. His form for the reserves saw him break into the Leeds senior team, making two first-team outings and numerous appearances on the bench.
But with Kalvin Phillips imperious in the holding-midfield role and Jack Jenkins shining in his role for the Under-23 side under Mark Jackson this season, McCalmont opted to move on loan. He joined Harry Kewell’s League Two side as a holding midfielder, but Tuesday night might have just changed that.
Taking on Bradford City in the EFL Trophy, McCalmont started in a three-man midfield that saw the Northern Irishman get forward – rather than sitting in front of the defence. With the scoreline reading 1-1 as both sides entered the last 10 minutes, McCalmont changed the game with two well-taken goals – bursting into the box like a young Frank Lampard.
McCalmont’s brace were the first two goals of his professional career, but he looked as though he had been doing it for years. Certainly, he has a future at Leeds given his contract which lasts until 2024 – but boasting this added string to his bow might just hand Marcelo Bielsa a player with a bit more to him than first thought.
If McCalmont continues to shine as a box-to-box midfielder – rather than the defensive midfielder he was first thought of as – then surely he will strengthen his chances of returning to Elland Road and breaking into the first team again. As Leeds fans know, Bielsa loves a player with versatility.