Leeds United have for many years, prided themselves on their illustrious academy. It has been an academy that has produced the likes of Norman Hunter, David Batty, and now Kalvin Phillips.
Even without the superstars of their time, there is a constant conveyor belt of top-class talent being churned out of Thorpe Arch. However, modern football is an unforgiving industry, leaving many of these players a short time span to prove their worth.
For 21-year-old Jamie Shackleton, the road from academy graduate to first team fan-favourite has been a lengthy one. Following his debut back in 2018, Shackleton has gone on to make 42 appearances for his boyhood club.
However, in the last Premier League campaign, Shackleton featured in the starting eleven in just three occasions.
If the local midfielder is to make his mark in the city he loves, this coming season could be the one to make it happen.
Standing at just five feet and six inches, Shackleton or ‘Shacks’ as he often referred to, is a tenacious box-to-box midfielder who can also be utilised at right-back.
Unlike many of his peers in his age group, the England u20 international has never been sent on loan by head coach, Marcelo Bielsa. With his unrelenting fitness, Jamie comfortably looks the part whenever he features in the first team.
This season, Leeds are on the hunt for a new number eight to boost the already lofty ambitions of the West Yorkshire outfit. This will leave Player of the Year, Stuart Dallas, as the second obstacle to overcome in order to force his way back onto the scene.
If this is the case, his way in could actually be from right-back. Luke Ayling is now the only senior player who naturally plays in this position, with only Cody Drameh, the under 23s stalwart next in line.
For Shackleton, playing full back can only come naturally to him in Bielsa’s system. In fact, in his first start under the Argentinian, despite many questions coming from fans, the then 18-year-old took complete charge of the right-hand side of the Liberty Stadium.
In that game away to Swansea, he demonstrated not only his tactical prowess but also his ingenuity in attack – notching an assist in a drizzly two-a-piece draw.
It is clear the 21-year-old has the drive and the ability to become a key member of this Whites squad, but as the seasons count down, the pressure is mounting for him to pounce on his chance.