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My Hart warmers.

LEEDS United youth team boss Paul Hart had a smile on his face in midweek after speaking with Mick McCarthy.

He'd just got the thumbs up that two of his starlets - Alan Maybury and Ian Harte - were in the Irish Under-21 squad to face Russia in Drogheda on March 26.

And a third, Stephen McPhail is expected to surface in the U21s within the next year as McCarthy plans for the future.

Tipped as a likely successor to Howard Wilkinson in the top job at Elland Road, Hart was responsible for bringing all three kids to the club.

"I liked them from day one - and they've proved me right in the way they've settled at the club," says Hart.

"Competition for first team places is always going to be tough at Leeds. But it says much for the character of Alan and Ian that they've already made it into the big time."

Maybury, just 17, got his big chance at right back because of the absence of Ireland player Gary Kelly.

But long term, he's seen as the youngster who can solve one of McCarthy's biggest problems by stepping into Paul McGrath's boots at centre back.

Ian Harte is a nephew of Gary Kelly. And at 19, just two years younger than his uncle, he's set to get his first big chance at his local ground in Drogheda.

McPhail, a product of the famous Home Farm nursery, is the youngest of the trio. But the word among the experts is that he could turn out to be the most gifted of the lot.

Uncanny

A natural left-sided midfield player, he has already produced some startling displays in Leeds' reserve team - good enough to send David O'Leary searching for superlatives.

"I was with Liam Brady as a kid at Highbury - and the resemblance with young McPhail is uncanny," says O'Leary.

"I've never seen a player with a better left peg than Brady. But if anybody has a chance of matching him, it's McPhail.

"I told Liam so when I met him the other day - and now I guess the kid has at least two big fans."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:O'reilly, Hugh
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 17, 1996
Words:355
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