Noel Whelan has insisted Alfie McCalmont could be promoted to the Leeds United first-team this summer.
However, the former Leeds striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, warned the youngster could look to quit Elland Road if he feels he is not given the opportunity he deserves.
McCalmont, who turned 21 on Thursday, netted his eighth goal of the season on Saturday in Oldham’s clash with Leyton Orient.
— Alfie McCalmont (@alfiemccalmont4) March 24, 2021
The midfielder has made 30 appearances for the League Two outfit so far in what is his first full season playing senior football.
McCalmont made two first-team appearances for Leeds last season, while he also made his international debut for Northern Ireland.
Whelan suggested Marcelo Bielsa could give the starlet a chance to impress during pre-season.
However, he also admitted McCalmont may look to leave if he feels it is best for his future.
Whelan told Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge: “Progression is vital for these 21-year-olds that have come through the academy system. They can’t break into the first team right now.
“There’s no suggestion to me they can’t be Leeds United players. What they can do is do everything that’s going to give them the best opportunity to have a very successful career.
“That means if you go out on loan, you’ve got to put the same amount of effort and attitude in as you would at Leeds United. Show them that you’re capable of being that player.
“Great goal the other day (v Exeter City). All he can do is keep putting in performances. Keep showing Leeds United he’s out there progressing.
“When they come back to Leeds United, show them that ability has gone up a level. It might catch the eye of Marcelo Bielsa and it might put him in the mind.
“You can’t just rely on going out on loan and then you’re going to come back and play for Leeds. That’s not going to be the case. When I say give you the best opportunity of a career, it means that other clubs are always watching.
“It might be a championship club. That’s not to suggest at any stage that he might not be a Leeds United player. You’ve got to do whatever is right for you to progress in your career, whatever direction that may take.”