John O’Shea making use of Waterford connection at Reading

Reading’s Andre Burley and Akin Odimayo head to Waterford in loan deal

Amid the flurry of loan deals being completed in time for the start of the new Airtricity League season were two involving young Reading players, Andre Burley and Akin Odimayo, who are heading to Waterford in order to test themselves in top flight football. The link, of course, is John O'Shea with the former Irish international having had a hand in sending a couple of well-regarded defenders Alan Reynolds' way.

“I’d talked to Renny a few times over the past couple of years about the fact that I was getting into the coaching side of things and he said he’d be in touch if he thought there were areas of the team that he needed players and that lads we might be able to send over would get some valuable experience,” he says.

“I know how important that is from the loans I went out on [to Bournemouth and Royal Antwerp] so we think this will be good for Andre and Akin, well good for everyone really. They’ll get a taste of what it is like to play really competitive football in a good environment and Waterford will be getting two hungry young players who have made it clear they want to go out and get the chance to improve themselves.”

For Reading, as for many other clubs, this sort of thing is a key part in the development of young players. Both 20 year-olds have solid experience of the Under-23 league under their belts and both have been in or around the club’s first team set-up with Burley having featured in three recent FA Cup ties while Odimayo made his debut before going out on another loan earlier in the season.


The club has had players at clubs in Belgium, Spain, Scotland, the US and China over the course of the last 12 months (young striker Adam Liddle touched down at the Brandywell only this week) and an important element of the entire operation is to see how the young professionals adapt to the upheaval of living away and plying their trade in a very different environment.

"Waterford will be good for the lads," says O'Shea. "The facilities are good, the coaching is good, it's their third season back in the Premier Division and the standard in it is improving. They'll also have some big games – St Pats, Bohs, Shamrock Rovers – in the first few weeks they are there. That will be a great test for them.

“But it’s about more than that. It’s also about seeing how they cope with being taken out of their comfort zone; it’s about personal development and developing mental strength. There are a couple of loan managers at the club and they will keep a close eye on how they are getting on. It’s an important step for them and it also allows us to bring a couple of younger players up a level back everyone is progressing.”

Ideally the players will get a lot of game-time although there are no guarantees and O’Shea acknowledges that it would not be practical to actually oblige the manager of the borrowing club to start particular players every time, but it is often the case in these situations for some financial penalties to be imposed if the players to not get certain agreed numbers of minutes out on the pitch. The 38 year-old insists, however, that he had absolutely no part in sorting out that end of these deals.

His own focus at the club is coaching the first team squad while he is working to get qualifications away from the pitch. The long-time Manchester United defender already has his coaching A Licence and is currently doing the federation's MIP course; a programme specifically designed to help former internationals equip themselves for a career in other areas of the game. Later this year, he hopes to start working towards his Pro Licence with the FAI.

“It’s just all about putting the groundwork in place for me at the moment,” he says. “It’s been great to get the opportunity to work with the first team straight off and with Mark [Bowen] and Eddie [Niedwiecki] but it is very different. You’re putting in a lot more hours for a start. My wife has been laughing about me finally doing a full day’s work.”