Luke O’Brien’s on-off transfer to Exeter City finally went through this afternoon, with the 23-year-old joining the League One outfit until the end of the season.
O’Brien has not started a game for over two months and figured only 13 times this campaign, as strong early season form from Robbie Threlfall and then a preference for Marcel Seip limited his opportunities. Manager Phil Parkinson told City’s website:
“I’ve had a couple of chats with OB (Luke O’Brien) in recent weeks and we both feel he needs a new challenge in his career. He has obviously been here a long time, but he feels, and I agree with him, that he needs to get his career going again. Exeter have given him the opportunity to do that and I hope that he is able to take it.”
On the subject of O’Brien; Andy – the former City defender – today returned for training at Leeds United after refusing to play for the Whites earlier in the season.
Leeds have revealed that O’Brien has been suffering from depression, spending time at the Sporting Chance Clinic. The same statement revealed that – following an investigation to find out the facts of why O’Brien refused to play – the club discovered that he has “faced issues” since the start of the season. This period included an appearance against the Bantams in the League Cup 1st round, where O’Brien had a dreadful game and was substituted midway through the second half.
Leeds have also said:
We were exceptionally disappointed when Andy refused to play before the Burnley game and felt let down. It is now apparent that there were a number of issues that he was dealing with at that time which affected him in a way we could not imagine and he was not in a right state of mind to make such decisions. On this basis we believe he deserves a second chance and we will do everything we can to assist him.”
However difficult it was for the club to realise Andy was suffering, strong statements made at the time O’Brien refused to play don’t reflect brilliantly on Simon Grayson and Ken Bates in hindsight. That said, the most important thing is O’Brien’s health and it looks like our West Yorkshire neighbours are providing him all the help and support he needs.
Back at Valley Parade, Patrick Lacey and Nialle Rodney – summer signings by Peter Jackson from Sheffield Wednesday and Notts Forest respectively – have departed the club. This has already prompted talk that the Development Squad idea set up during the summer is over, but while that might be true it should be noted that Lacey was signed before Archie Christie joined the club and that Nialle Rodney was considered part of the first team squad, and not the Development Squad, as he was signed using the first team budget.