BRIAN MCDERMOTT admits the troubles experienced by Sam Byram in his second season of senior football are influencing Leeds United’s handling of teenager Alex Mowatt this term.
The 18-year-old midfielder has had an impressive first half of 2013-14 after making the step-up to the first team.
Despite that, Mowatt was rested for the Boxing Day draw at Blackpool and McDermott admits that the teenager is unlikely to be recalled for United’s final game of 2013.
The Leeds manager, who has been without Byram for long periods this season through injury, said: “I just felt that it was important to rest him.
“Against Barnsley (in the goalless draw of December 21) he was tired and I thought that I needed to look after him.
“I spoke to Alex and, to be honest, I think he was happy to get that rest. Sometimes, you can over-play young players and you have to be careful not to do that.
“We brought great experience into the team (at Blackpool) and they did very well.”
Asked if Mowatt is likely to be recalled today along with Luke Murphy, who had to miss the Bloomfield Road trip through suspension, McDermott replied: “Possibly not.
“I will talk to him and I will talk to the physios as well. We will see how we are looking for Forest and Blackburn (on New Year’s Day). You have got to remember that Alex is one booking away from a suspension, so that comes into my reckoning as well.
“Plus, he is 18 years of age. That is the key. You sometimes forget that he is an 18-year-old boy.
“Sam Byram last season played an awful lot of games and he was very young. You have to look after your youngsters and Alex needs a rest. He needs a break.”
The Boxing Day draw at Blackpool saw Leeds slip a place to sixth, Forest’s win at home to QPR later in the evening seeing Billy Davies’ side leapfrog the West Yorkshire club.
But, as the season approaches its mid-point, there is no disguising the satisfaction felt at Elland Road at how McDermott’s men have turned round their fortunes courtesy of a run that has brought just one defeat in nine games.
McDermott said: “We have got to go to Forest now for another tough game. You never take your supporters for granted and they travel in numbers.
“But our fans are seeing a team that is giving them everything. The effort, resilience and determination - you just couldn’t fault that.
“If you consider our away form last season and where we are now, we’re getting better. They are tough games but it is tough for everyone at this time of year. We are certainly not moaning.”