JJ is thriving after conversion to midfield

THE conversion of JJ O’Donnell into a central midfielder was a natural progression for the youngster who’s promising great things for the forthcoming campaign, writes Mark Wood.

Friday, 3rd August 2012, 7:27 am

He’s backed up signing a three-year deal in the summer with a number of excellent performances in midfield during Town’s pre-season friendlies.

On his switch from a left-sided player by boss Paul Buckle, O’Donnell said: “In the first few games I was playing at left-back in training games and I would get forward anyway.

“Then we played a reserve game against Northampton and he put me on the left-hand side of midfield.

“He says ‘get on the ball’, so I come inside naturally to get on the ball and I went to centre midfield from there.

“The way we want to play is pass the ball.

“Playing with Yas (Kasim) and Ads (Watkins) and Jake (Howells) who are great footballers, it makes my job easier.

“I just want to work hard for the team and work hard for my team-mates who are a pleasure to play with, day in, day out in training, and I want to be part of that on a matchday.”

The Hatters now have a mobile midfield, who will be looking to squeeze the play at every opportunity next term.

O’Donnell continued: “We play as a three. Yas will naturally get on the ball, he’s a pretty player if you like who will sit in front of the back four, pick up the ball and pass it around.

“But he (Buckle) wants me and Ads to be in advance of Yaser, or whoever plays in there, Jake instead of me maybe.

“He wants us to get on the ball and try and slide people like Fleets (Stuart Fleetwood), Andre (Gray) in and (Jon) Shaw when he’s back in the side, and try and get them in on goal.

“We know we’re not massive, we know we’re not a big side.

“There’s no point smashing it from Janos (Kovacs) to their two centre-backs who are going to head it down.

“But if we have to do that we can play off Rens (Scott Rendell).

“He’s a lad that’s an outlet for us and Jon Shaw’s good in the air, so if we need to play more direct against teams who will put it about then we can do that.

“The manager encourages me and Adam and Yaser to squeeze the play as a team and try and get the bits.”

While refusing to set himself goals for the new campaign, O’Donnell is determined to be much more involved than in previous years.

He added: “I don’t set myself targets, I just want to play games of football.

“I work hard every day. If I’m in the team, I’m in the team, brilliant, I want to play. If I’m not in the team I’ll work even harder.

“I feel this year more than ever that I’ve got a good chance of playing.

“Maybe in previous seasons I didn’t really feel I was part of it as such, I didn’t really think I was going to play, I didn’t expect to play.

“But now I’ve worked hard pre-season, I’ve worked hard in Portugal, I’ve worked hard before I came back and I want to play now.

“I’m 20 years of age now, I’m not really a kid any more and I want to step up and help the lads get what we need which is to get into the Football League.”

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