Andrew Omobamidele profile - Ireland's Rio Ferdinand?

Andrew Omobamidele profile - Ireland's Rio Ferdinand?

HIGH PRAISE, but deserved from what we can tell.

It is a bad idea to heap too much pressure on a youngster. It's something that is more synonymous with how British players are treated by managers and the media, and not something we see too often in Ireland.

And while that is the case, it's also suitable to praise young talent when they are performing well. Finding the balance is key.

So we won't go too overboard when talking about Andrew Omobamidele, the 18-year-old Norwich defender, because it really isn't fair.

But former Dundalk manager Vinny Perth has not wasted any time in comparing him to one of the best defenders in the history of the Premier League.

Speaking on Off The Ball about the Leixlip lad, he said: "He is so comfortable on the ball. I hate giving players tags, but he looks like a young Rio Ferdinand. He has got bits to learn, in that he could develop his upper body strength but he is 18, playing against men."

"He is so calm on the ball, so assured on the ball, his passing range is excellent. I believe he could play in the number 6 role, he could be a Declan Rice-type player. It will be interesting to see."

Omobamidele has started Norwich's past three Championship games, keeping a clean sheet in two, and winning man-of-the-match in the other.

And despite this excellent start, Chief Norwich City reporter David Freezer (Pinkun, Norwich Evening News) does not want to get too excited just yet.

He said: "I think I'd probably say impressed, rather than excited. He's stepped into the breach admirably after injuries to Ben Gibson and Christoph Zimmermann arrived at the same time, bringing their seasons to an early end.

"To make your first senior start amid the pressure of a team looking to seal promotion to the Premier League, at 18 years old, and show such composure and determination, has really been quite the statement."

"He hasn't reached the heights that either of them are capable of, he's just concentrated on keeping things simple and defending cleanly. There have been a few nervy moments but he's had the experience of Hanley and keeper Tim Krul to guide him through the few uncertain moments.

"During the 1-0 win at Derby on Saturday, you could hear Max Aarons ordering him to be more vocal and communicate, so that's an example of a young man really taking his first steps in the men's game but doing so assuredly."

Freezer said that a loan spell next season may not be a bad idea, if Norwich are to be promoted back to the Premier League, which looks extremely likely.

"Next season is so important for Norwich, in terms of trying to become established in the Premier League at the second attempt under Daniel Farke and Stuart Webber.

"To put too much faith in an 18-year-old producing in that scenario seems unlikely. He's so young and inexperienced but this unexpected rise to prominence has hinted that he could have a really exciting future.

"If he went away and played regularly for a team at the top end of League One, for example, then he could be ready to push at Norwich. That's what happened with Ben Godfrey when he went to Shrewsbury and now he's a star at Everton and will probably become a full England international in the next couple of years."

"As well as an excellent double block to deny Scott Sinclair in the first half, he climbed highest to power a header clear as a corner came into the box in injury-time. Doing that at his age suggests he's got real potential in his locker.

"It's been a great couple of weeks for him. He's about to get a promotion on his CV, and hopefully a Championship title winners' medal as well.

"I wouldn't want to hype him too much but it certainly feels like this spell will set him up for a decent shot at building a career at a good level."

So whether he ends up Ireland's answer to Rio Ferdinand, or has a successful career in the Championship, we'll be keeping a close eye on him either way, and we'd imagine a call up from Stephen Kenny is coming soon.