TEENAGE midfielder Alex Mowatt admits the 2013-14 campaign has already seriously surpassed his expectations after signing a new contract with Leeds United.
The Doncaster-born teenager, 18, has been a revelation since making his debut in a Capital One Cup tie at his hometown club on August 27, with his rapid progress now rewarded by way of a three-and-a-half year deal.
Good news arrived in batches for the Whites yesterday with boss Brian McDermott and prolific striker Ross McCormack nominated for the Championship manager and player of the month awards for November respectively.
McDermott says he is delighted to secure Mowatt to a long-term deal and despite the youngster having only made 11 senior appearances so far in his embryonic career, he believes he has taken to first-team surroundings seamlessly – while showing no signs of being star-struck whatsoever.
On his quick-fire development, Mowatt – who produced another impressive performance in Wednesday’s 2-0 win over Wigan at Elland Road in front of watching England Under-21 boss Gareth Southgate – said: “I wasn’t expecting anything like this at the start of the season. It’s been good for me so far.
“Playing Under-18s with a zero crowd to playing in front of 25,000 to 30,000 is pretty weird.
“I’m just glad to sign the deal. There was no doubt in my mind at all. I feel very settled now. Your first couple of games are nervous, but after that you get used to that. It’s all good.”
McDermott added: “Alex is 18 and he’s playing regularly in the Championship and I think the deal shows what we think of him.
“I watched Alex before his first game at Doncaster, just sat in the room quite happy and comfortable. He was letting it all go on around him. I just said to him ‘get on the ball and do what you do’. It was like he’d been there all his life.”
McDermott is battling it out with Brighton’s Oscar Garcia, Bolton’s Dougie Freedman and Leicester’s Nigel Pearson for the November monthly award and while pleased to be in the running, his eyes are firmly fixed on the greater prize – taking Leeds back to the top flight.
McDermott, who has voiced fears that injured loan striker Dexter Blackstock may have a cartilage problem after missing the last two games, said: “If I’m in the frame to be manager of the month, it means we’re doing well. But you want to be winning it in March and April. That means you’re doing well at the back-end of the season.
“You want to work in the Premier League – our players want to be Premier League players.”