Who is Joe O’Brien-Whitmarsh? Meet Southampton’s ‘two-footed’ next James Ward-Prowse

Southampton’s long his­to­ry of pro­duc­ing first-team­ers from the acad­e­my looks set to con­tin­ue, as they have a new star­let emerg­ing out of Sta­ple­wood.

The South Coast club have tra­di­tion­al­ly giv­en youth a plat­form to flour­ish and under Rus­sell Mar­tin, that notion has only ampli­fied.

The for­mer Swansea City boss has award­ed Tyler Dib­ling, 18, and Samuel Amo-Ameyaw, 17, min­utes from the bench this term and he may well pro­mote anoth­er acad­e­my play­er to his squad.

Emerg­ing from Sta­ple­wood is Irish mid­field­er Joe O’Brien-Whitmarsh, who joined Southamp­ton in Jan­u­ary.

The 18-year-old had been play­ing senior foot­ball for Cork City and was a high­ly sought-after mid­field­er pri­or to pen­ning a deal with The Saints.

Aston Vil­la, Leeds Unit­ed and Ever­ton were all keen on adding O’Brien-Whitmarsh to their ranks but ulti­mate­ly, he signed a con­tract with the Cham­pi­onship pro­mo­tion hope­fuls run­ning through until 2027.

Joe O’Brien-Whitmarsh could be the next James Ward-Prowse

Cork City v St Patrick's Athletic - SSE Airtricity Men's Premier Division
Pho­to By Michael P Ryan/Sportsfile via Get­ty Images

The tal­ent­ed teenag­er has already made five appear­ances for Southamp­ton in the Pre­mier League 2 and has net­ted in his last two out­ings.

The Ire­land youth inter­na­tion­al has sur­prised coach­es with his ‘light­ning-quick pace’ and Dai­ly Echo jour­nal­ist Alfie House believes he has sim­i­lar traits to for­mer cap­tain James Ward-Prowse.

“In O’Brien-Whitmarsh, Saints have picked up an intel­li­gent, two-foot­ed attack­ing mid­field­er with a hunger for scor­ing and cre­at­ing,” House wrote.

At Cork City, the 2005-born struck four goals across 27 appear­ances, which fur­ther evinces his abil­i­ty to sniff out chances and score from mid­field.

Joe O’Brien-Whitmarsh admits he must be patient

With Saints head­ing into the final 10 games of the Cham­pi­onship sea­son, and auto­mat­ic pro­mo­tion very much on the agen­da, per­haps a first-team debut may not arrive until next sea­son.

O’Brien-Whitmarsh admits he must remain patient: “It will take time to be ready for a much high­er lev­el men’s game but I think I can do it – that is the rea­son I joined.

“There is a good path­way and they play good foot­ball which suits me, I have to be patient and get bet­ter but I will work hard to do that.”

The teenag­er also com­pared the dif­fer­ence between League of Ire­land foot­ball and play­ing in Southampton’s reserves.

“The League of Ire­land is a lot more phys­i­cal, there’s a lot more tack­les,” he not­ed.

“Since I have been play­ing under-21s I don’t think I have been prop­er­ly tack­led. In Ire­land, you’ve got 27 or 28-year-old men hit­ting you.

“That is going to be a bit dif­fer­ent but the ball moves so much quick­er here, the game is a lot sharp­er and a lot more tech­ni­cal and I love that.”

Clear­ly, Southamp­ton have got a very promis­ing play­er on their hands, but with all young­sters, they must be man­aged accord­ing­ly.

Devel­op­ment shouldn’t be rushed.

Related Topics