PROFILE: Omobamidele proof City’s Irish link is bearing fruit
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Daniel Farke isn’t a head coach who hands gifts to young players.
Those players included in his matchday squads deserve to be there, based on the quality of their performances in training, attitude and mentality.
City’s boss often uses an extended metaphor to describe the opportunity he presents to young footballers – he takes them to the door and it’s up to them to walk through it.
Andrew Omobamidele is the latest player on the receiving end of Farke’s willingness to trust in young players after Timm Klose’s exit earlier this week.
The Swiss international joined FC Basel – meaning there is an opening for a player to emerge as a credible first-choice option.
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City could yet dip into the market and secure a Premier League loan, with Arsenal defender William Saliba linked with a move to Carrow Road.
Omobamidele will be monitored by Farke as the Republic of Ireland youth international seeks to stake his claim for a permanent place in City’s first-team squad.
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The 18-year-old was named on the bench for the Canaries’ 2-1 EFL Cup defeat against Luton Town last month and impressed in the under-23s’ 5-0 demolition of League Two side Newport County in the EFL Trophy on Tuesday.
“Games like this tend to bring out players. Big games. A League Two side. It brings one or two out,” Omobamidele told the Athletic after the win in Wales.
The defender signed for City from Irish outfit Leixlip United and he admits adapting to life at City was challenging initially.
“When you’re in Ireland, that’s the goal: to play in England.
“I’d had a few trials before but this club was the best. I felt most at home. The people, coaches, the whole club. I just felt like I’d fit in.
“When I came, I was training Tuesday and Thursday, then played on Saturday, so it took a few weeks to adapt to the training schedule and intensity. It was faster, more physical.
“Adapting is probably the hardest bit of coming over, and where some players might fall short. But you just get your head down and work for the first month to get yourself level with the boys who’ve been in the academy from a young age. They’re seasoned, training every day after school. In Ireland, that’s just not the case.”
Omobamidele is one of a few young Irish talents that City are developing in their academy – including first team striker Adam Idah, winger Josh Giurgi and midfielder William Hondermarck.
The growing Irish contingent extends into the coaching staff at City’s academy – something the defender has found beneficial to his development at the club.
“The first few weeks were a bit challenging, because I’m used to a big family at home. Going into a house where it’s just me and Josh (Giurgi) and the house parents, no kids, it’s just getting used to it. Now, I’m used to playing every day.
“They’ve a good link with Irish players. Even the coaches, there’s a good few Irish coaches there, so it’s a good club to be at.
“Because some of us are Irish, we take care of our own, maybe go out to Nando’s or something like that, for something to do after training and games.”
Omobamidele is another product from City’s extensive scouting of Ireland. The defender was part of a successful Leixlip side that has seen numerous players jump across the Irish sea to join clubs in England.
“It was the All-Irelands that got (me my move away). Leixlip were a big club at the time but we weren’t compared to the Kevin’s and the Joey’s (clubs). Making it to the All-Ireland finals and winning it was a big step forward for us.
“Our goalkeeper, Harry Halwax, went to Derby, our winger went to United, Josh [Giurgi] is obviously at Norwich.
“I think we’re the team with the most players that actually went over to England. I put it down to the All-Irelands.”
The teenager has ambitions to break into City’s first team and is apart of an under-23s group that is rated highly inside the club.
As a modern central defender, Omobamidele has styled his game on a Liverpool central defender that he idolises.
“I play centre-back and Virgil van Dijk is obviously the best defender at the moment,” he said. “He’s quality. He’s one of my idols in my position.
“We like to play out from the back so being good on the ball is kind of part of that.
“That’s why I look up to him. Some of his attributes, I like to think I have some of them myself. Obviously, he’s on a different level, but he’s a good person to look up to and a good role model,” Omobamidele told Irish outlet the 42 in 2019.
Whether City will turn to the 18-year-old to fill the void vacated by Omobamidele remains to be seen – but Farke will cast his eye over the youngster before deciding his next move.