Monday, January 18th, 2016
Max O’Leary will make his full senior debut against Premier League opponents in tomorrow’s Emirates FA Cup third round replay at Ashton Gate (7.45pm).
With City number one Frank Fielding still sidelined with injury and Richard O’Donnell cup-tied, the 19-year-old keeper will don the gloves from the start for the first time in his career against West Brom.
O’Leary’s only previous first team involvement was as a half-time substitute in the initial tie at The Hawthorns, a 2-2 draw nine days ago, but interim boss John Pemberton is convinced the teenager has what it takes.
“I’m looking forward to seeing him play because he’s been great in the training sessions,” Pemberton told Bristol City Player HD.
“He’s been with us a long while now and I think he’s ready, so we’ll see how it goes.
“I remember watching him in a game when he first came into the Under-21s. He made a mistake right at the start of a game against QPR at Ashton Gate and they scored from it.
“I was sat behind the goal and I thought ‘this will be interesting’. But he was magnificent for the rest of the game – it didn’t affect him.
“That was a good sign, and I’ve kept my eye on him. It’s sink or swim now, but we’ve got confidence in him and he knows that. He’s ready to play.
“He did well in the second half (at The Hawthorns) and I think that experience will do him good.
“He’s got a future – we’re not just picking him because we haven’t got anyone else.
“It’s about whether he can cope with the pressures of first team football, but if you don’t chuck them in you don’t get to see it.”
Pemberton revealed he has two players doubtful for the West Brom replay, including defender Nathan Baker, who suffered an eye injury in the closing stages of Saturday’s 1-0 home win over Middlesbrough.
Meanwhile, Luke Freeman is fit and available for selection after missing the Boro victory with a dead leg.
Secure a seat for City’s Emirates FA Cup third round replay with West Brom tomorrow night (7.45pm) by calling 0117 963 0600 or online.