Football - FA Youth Cup 5th Round - Liverpool FC v Leeds United FCLeeds manager Brian McDermott insisted he is confident Alex Mowatt’s impressive first-team breakthrough this season won’t be going to teenager’s head. Ever since making his debut against his hometown club Doncaster in August, the teenager has gone on to establish himself as a key part of the Whites’ midfield under McDermott, cementing his place in the Leeds first team and slipping into Championship football as seamlessly as any of the other recent graduates from the prolific youth ranks.

The 18-year-old was rewarded for his fine start to his senior career with a new three-and-a-half year contract earlier at the beginning of December, calming fears Mowatt could be heading for the inevitable move to Norwich. The Canaries seemingly have a season ticket at Elland Road, and the Norfolk club were one of just a number of Premier League sides rumoured to be keen on breaking Leeds fans hearts and poaching our latest hot prospect.

As well as his obvious talent, Mowatt been as impressive the way he’s handled his sudden emergence on the big stage this season. As with Tom Lees and Sam Byram before him, Mowatt has emerged from the youth ranks with a maturity that belies his tender years.

“He’s taken to it seamlessly quite frankly and he’s going to get better because he’s young and he’s going to mature. He’s going to mature into a real quality player. The one thing with Alex is that he’s level-headed, he keeps his feet on the ground,” said McDermott after Mowatt signed his new contract.

“He’s really grounded and he wants to do well. He trains really hard and he prepares himself every day to the best of his ability.”

Although a different type of midfielder to Jonny Howson, Mowatt has a similar determination and will to win that the former Leeds captain had in such abundance. There is also a decent argument to claim Mowatt could become a better player than Howson in the future.

While Howson was a regular goalscorer throughout his time in the first team and Mowatt has so far failed to score his debut senior goal, the teenager establish a deserved reputation as regular name on the scoresheet during his time in the U18’s and Development Squad.

Tipped by the Betway Sportsbook with a strong case for finishing in the play-offs this season, Mowatt has been an important part of the team’s promising run of form. A creative playmaker with the engine to play as a box-to-box midfielder, Mowatt has wasted little time in forming a promising bond with Luke Murphy in this Leeds midfield, pulling the strings in the centre of the park while Rodolph Austin storms around making there isn’t a blade of grass that he hasn’t stomped his mark on.

It might be too much to ask for Mowatt to keep his place in the first team throughout the rest of the season, but there doesn’t yet seem to be any signs that the youngster is going to begin showing signs of burning out. McDermott and his staff know what they’re doing with young players, and they will know they have a special talent on their hands in Mowatt and one who could be key to the club’s promotion hopes this season.