Callum O’Hare picked up another Man of the Match award over the weekend as the youngster continues to thrive across the city.
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Callum O’Hare is still plying his trade in Birmingham this season, despite being sent out on loan to Coventry City due to the League One side’s ground share with Birmingham City – but the Aston Villa youngster isn’t letting the rivalry between his boyhood club, the club he’s playing for currently or the club that owns the stadium that he’s playing at phase him.
In fact, the midfielder is thriving. After picking up another Man of the Match award in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Doncaster, the Sky Blues find themselves sitting in fourth in Sky Bet League One and Solihull born O’Hare has had a major part to play in getting them there.
The 21-year-old was involved in pre-season and looked like a livewire in the 109 minutes he amassed across games against Minnesota United, Shrewsbury Town and Walsall. He got into all the right positions and looked stronger on the ball than on previous occasions, but scuppered chances that an older head might have buried.
Alas, exactly a month on from Aston Villa’s 5-1 drubbing of Walsall, in which O’Hare played for 19 minutes, he found himself crossing the Second City divide like so many others this summer, but to perform for a different kind of ‘blues’.
He has amassed 394 minutes of game time after this weekend’s 97-minute affair and generally finds himself involved throughout a number of phases of play – as showcased by his heatmap for his seven appearances so far (with one coming in the cup and four from the bench).
Nine shots towards goal have resulted in four of them being on target – which has subsequently gifted two goals to Coventry from O’Hare’s boots. Often played at either side of a central midfield role, the midfielder has appeared in more attacking roles too, namely against Watford in the Carabao Cup, a 3-0 loss, and against AFC Wimbledon, a 2-1 victory.
And although he’s impressing at Coventry, and fans are understandably happy with his performances, there are still areas that Aston Villa man can improve on. His dribbling has worked against some opposition, with the likes of Doncaster Rovers, Burton Albion and Gillingham, where he notched up an impressive eight dribbles in 13 attempts. Other opposition have been far less forgiving for his mazy runs, however.
His passing, on average, has been good. When the midfielder has come on as a sub, often with thirty minutes remaining, he may struggle to make an impact on the game (other than the two goals he’s scored from the bench) – making less than 15 passes in all four sub appearances. At least the vast majority of them are accurate though.
In his last two games, the things that Coventry City fans have appreciated the most is his effort. When other players haven’t perhaps made the grade or looked to grab the game by the horns, O’Hare has.
Against Wimbledon, the youngster managed an 82% pass success rate – successfully finding a team-mate on 45 out of 55 occasions, but struggled woefully in Coventry’s draw against Doncaster to replicate this passing ability, with only 10 of his 48 attempted passes paying off.
His effort is there for all to see. Despite his diminutive frame, standing at five feet and eight inches tall and weighing just 65 kilograms, the midfielder has been involved in 61 duels across his last two outings. Although he only came away with the ball in 18 of these duels, he’s making himself a nuisance – and it doesn’t mean that the ball wasn’t won by a team-mate as a result of Callum’s earlier duel. For a fanbase like Coventry, it’s good to see that a loan player is playing with such tenacity and vigour.
If O’Hare can continue impressing, he may be able to work his way into the plans of Dean Smith, depending on Aston Villa’s finishing position come next summer. Either way, he’s doing a grand job of getting the fans of his loan club on board – which is exactly what Jack Grealish managed to do whilst away at Notts County.
It makes a change to hear positive news about a player out on loan, after a lengthy period of ‘failed moves’ that didn’t amount to much for some of our younger lions.