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Some 18 months later and Joey has proven himself a key member of the squad which has excelled in our return to the big time. In fact I’d go as far as to say that Joey would feature in the strongest XI Big Sam could field; as he simply looks far more convincing at left back than George McCartney or Matty Taylor.
The versatile Irishman who can play in both full-back positions as well as a defensive midfield role, will prove pivotal for us as the injuries begin to stack up and as the games come thick and fast over the Xmas period.
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Injuries threatened to curtail the career of O’Brien; which makes his meteoric resurgence even more incredible. Having only made 50 appearances for Bolton in 7 years and going six years without a call up by the Republic; you could be forgiven for thinking that his career was going the same way of Kieron Dyer (remember him?) Now Joey is a key figure both club and country.
With promotion back to the Premier League comes a certain snobbery; we as fans automatically assume who can make the step up and who can’t; a lot of people (especially in the media) thought Winston Reid was just a Championship player…well he’s confounded his critics by looking extremely comfortable at this level and I think it’s fair to say Joey is doing the same.
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