TALENTED young defender Jack’ O’Brien is hoping to have impressed Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink after joining the first team for the opening pre-season friendlies.
The 18-year-old was one of a group of teenagers involved in the opening games against Gresley and Mickleover.
Albion take on Wolves tomorrow (July 18) at the Pirelli Stadium (kick off 1pm) and O’Brien hopes that Hasselbaink and assistant manager David Oldfield can call on him if needed.
Oldfield has challenged Albion’s crop of younger players to take their opportunities to impress during pre-season.
O'Brien partnered captain John Mousinho in the centre of defence in the opening fixture and looked the part.
He says: “I love playing with John, he’s a leader, the captain of the club and it’s a great experience for me to be alongside him and follow his example.”
O’Brien has had a long time out with a knee injury but is now back to full fitness.
He says: “After being injured it has been hard to get myself back up with the first team, so to get the opportunity to play in front of the manager was great.”
O’Brien suffered a tear in his cartilage 18 months ago and then suffered a second tear in the same knee.
“The second injury wasn’t as bad but still took time to get back. Now it’s feeling very good, very strong. I have had a lot of help from the club and people at St George’s Park, to strengthen my knee and get me back playing.
“I still have to get sharper and fitter but in terms of where I am now I am as fit as I could expect.”
O’Brien joined the academy set up five years ago and has always targeted the first team.
“That has always been the goal,” he says. “It’s good to get a taste of playing with the first team and I would like more of that.”
There are a clutch of young players knocking at the door and O’Brien says that helps all the young lads raise their game.
He says: “There are some good players coming through which is a credit to Mike Whitlow and what he has achieved.”