In a game that eventually saw Leeds United come out on top, Tuesday’s night Carabao Cup clash against Fulham may be more remembered for the couple of debuts that Marcelo Bielsa handed out.
Stuart McKinstry was one of them, coming on in the 75th minute for fellow academy starlet Crysencio Summerville, and the young Scot showed his mettle by converting the decisive Leeds spot-kick during sudden death.
And, speaking after he watched him net that penalty in the victory over Fulham, Bielsa himself said: “He showed personality and character. McKinstry had to take one in the most decisive of moments and showed great character to do that and score.”
McKinstry got his first taste of senior football at Leeds, and will no doubt be hoping to benefit from some more opportunities before the end of the season.
And when you look at his style of play, the 18-year-old could well evolve into the Whites’ next Pablo Hernandez.
Much like the Spaniard, the teenager is similarly versatile in that while he can play as the number ten behind the striker, he can also play slightly deeper in central midfield as well as out wide too.
The Athletic’s Phil Hay is a big fan of the teenager, raving about his performance during the Whites’ U23s clash against Manchester United last season.
He said: “Leeds lost 1-0 after Henri Kumwenda’s red card in the second half but McKinstry shone while the game was 11-vs-11, cutting the opposition open with his speed of thought and balance, and showing a willingness to carry the ball.
“Those attacks demonstrated an ability to work in tight spaces and fashion chances from difficult positions — the wing play Bielsa looks for at first-team level.”
Just like Hernandez, it appears McKinstry works best when he’s operating in the final third and defenders are closing in on him, and his quick feet and agility make him a difficult prospect to mark.
Having already wowed Bielsa by stepping up to take a penalty in sudden death – in fact, he was the youngest Leeds player to take on – he could well emerge as the Whites’ next breakout star from the academy, and bring back memories of Hernandez in his pomp.