SOLIHULL College student Reiss McNally pitted himself against some of English football’s biggest names recently, when he faced off against Leeds United in a pre-season friendly last month, writes Bradley Rice.
The 19-year-old, who combines studies with playing for Guiseley, featured in the 2-1 defeat to Marcelo Bielsa’s side, a game in which the Championship team played close to full strength.
McNally says the opportunity to mix it up against a side bidding to reach the Premier League offered a unique perspective of the attributes required to make it at the top level.
“It was brilliant, because you get to see close up what they are like as players, even though I was playing against them, it was a great chance to learn from them,” he said.
“Their concentration is top class for the full 90, they don’t switch off for a second, you can see why these players are at the level they’re at.
“A lapse in concentration, or one mistake and the ball is in the back of your net. The game really showed me how important it is to stay focused 100% of the time.”
One name singled out for praise was loanee Jack Clarke, a recent signing for Tottenham Hotspur, with a lasting impression left on McNally after coming face-to-face with the 18-year-old.
“You could see straight away, why he’s been signed by Tottenham, the quality he has on the ball,” he said.
“At times against Jack, you knew he wanted to cut it on his right, so I tried to send him down the line, but against good players, it’s easier said than done.
“It was a real test playing against him, he constantly was trying to turn you inside and out, I had to be on top of my game.”
The defender, who is a product of Guiseley manager Marcus Bignot’s academy at the college, also took honour in being able to duel against Wolverhampton Wanderers loanee – Helder Costa – during the friendly.
“It was normal for me,” said McNally.
“It was a race, when I saw him knock it in front, I thought I’ll get him, but I was a bit scared that he might burn me for pace, thankfully he didn’t!”