by Phil Hay
Alex Mowatt insisted he was ready for a league debut at Millwall tomorrow after coming through his first experience of life among the Premier League’s class.
The 18-year-old midfielder is in contention for a Championship start with Leeds United this weekend following his 90-minute outing in Wednesday’s Capital One Cup defeat to Newcastle United.
Mowatt’s rapid emergence from the Leeds academy continues unchecked with manager Brian McDermott considering whether to use him from the outset at the New Den as United aim to rectify a run of three defeats from four league games.
The youngster, who made a sparkling competitive debut at Doncaster Rovers last month but was subjected to a tougher evening by Newcastle’s midfield, admitted he was lucky to escape with a yellow card towards the end of Wednesday’s match after a two-footed tackle on Cheick Tiote.
But McDermott applauded his performance at full-time and said Mowatt would be firmly in his thoughts when he made a final decision on a line-up for Millwall this morning.
Mowatt said: “I enjoyed it against Newcastle and it’s good to play against top players in a Premier League side, players who are different class.
“I played at Donny and now at Newcastle and it’s great for me. If I play well then hopefully I should get my chance.
“If the gaffer wants to play me (against Millwall) then I’m ready. That’s it really.”
McDermott left Luke Murphy, his £1million signing from Crewe Alexandra, on the bench at St James’ Park and has the option of recalling the 23-year-old in London tomorrow.
Paul Green is also available and McDermott looks likely to make changes to his line-up following another congested week involving back-to-back away trips.
But Mowatt’s displays on his two appearances for Leeds have earned the approval of his manager, and McDermott said: “He looked alright to me again.
“Newcastle was his second game and there’s no doubt that this boy will be playing for Leeds United for a long time.
“I didn’t see it as a risk throwing him in. Not at all. He played really well and he handled the occasion without a problem. He’s got a future at our club and he’ll play many games.
“But we’ll see what happens tomorrow. I’ll pick a team and go from there.”
Mowatt almost ruled himself out the visit to Millwall with a shin-high tackle on Tiote which McDermott admitted could have led to a straight red card.
Referee Mick Jones opted to book Mowatt with Newcastle easing towards a 2-0 win and normal time rapidly running out.
“I was a bit worried when he made the tackle,” McDermott said. “I was glad when the referee got the right coloured card out.”
Mowatt said: “It wasn’t the best of touches of mine and I just lost my head. It was a bad challenge.
“Maybe I’ve been lucky but the ref gave me the benefit of the doubt. I was going to ask Tiote for his shirt but Dioufy got it.”
Leeds were beaten at St James’ Park by two clinical goals, the first scored by Papiss Cisse and the second converted from 20 yards by Newcastle forward Yoan Gouffran.
Gouffran’s 67th-minute effort subjected United to a thankless finish as Alan Pardew’s side passed the ball about freely but Mowatt said: “We had a few chances and we were unlucky really.
“They had similar chances and put them away.
“We had a good go and getting beaten 2-0 isn’t too bad against a good Premier League side.
“I was secretly hoping to play because St James’ Park is a great place to play at. It was a good game for me.”