'Very privileged' - Irish teen so proud after first start for City

Andrew Omobamidele of Norwich in action during the Sky Bet Championship match at Deepdale, Preston
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Irish youngster Andrew Omobamidele impressed during his first start for Norwich City - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

The thrill of a first senior start for Norwich City outweighed the disappointment of a dramatic draw at Preston for 18-year-old defender Andrew Omobamidele.

The centre-back signed a long-term contract with the Canaries in December and made a brief Championship debut during the win at Cardiff in January, having impressed at under-23 level.

Having made his Republic of Ireland U21 debut last week, the teen found himself starting alongside Grant Hanley at Deepdale after injuries to Ben Gibson and Christoph Zimmermann

“It was great, it was a proper feeling," said the young Irishman. "When I went out and before the whistle went, I kind of looked around and saw the boys; Teemu (Pukki), Todd (Cantwell), Emi (Buendia), playing beside Grant. 

“I remember when I came out when I signed when I was 16 at Carrow Road, up in the Barclay Stand, watching these boys.  

“Starting beside them was a great feeling and I’m very privileged to have the opportunity.” 

Omobamidele put in a thoroughly composed display but as City failed to take their chances to make victory safe, Brad Potts' shot cruelly deflected past Tim Krul as Omobamidele tried to make the block, to snatch a 1-1 draw for Preston on Good Friday.

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“I think it’s going to be a lesson to me personally, just to see it out and to go until the end," he continued.

“Sometimes in football, there’s a lot of things you can rule out. Sometimes goals are a comedy of errors and other times you think, 'maybe if I was an inch closer to the ball'.

"It’s fine margins on this level.” 

Scotland international Hanley was there to guide the academy defender through his big day, with the more experienced Jacob Sorensen needed in midfield as Oliver Skipp was only fit enough for the bench after his England U21 exertions.

"He’s a top professional," Omobamidele said of his skipper. "Even before the game he gave me a bit of confidence and kind of walked me through the game as well, kept me composed all the time. 

“It was very beneficial to have him beside me.”

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With Gibson's season over after ankle surgery and Zimmermann unlikely to return from his hamstring injury until the end of the campaign, Omobamidele may get more chances to impress as the Canaries attempt to seal promotion in the weeks ahead - starting at home to Huddersfield on Tuesday. 

On that potential, the Dublin-born defender concluded: “It’s a possibility, obviously, but going forward I just want to continue on doing the training, keep my head down and working hard. 

“If the opportunity comes up again I’ll always give 100pc to the club when I’m called upon, so I just need to be ready.” 

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