Young Watford midfielder Luke O'Nien is Beppe Sannino's number one

Luke O'Nien has impressed his head coaches and team-mates since becoming a professional in the summer. Picture: Holly Cant

Luke O'Nien has impressed his head coaches and team-mates since becoming a professional in the summer. Picture: Holly Cant

First published in Latest Sport
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Luke O'Nien has yet to make his professional debut but the young Watford midfielder has already developed a reputation for being one of the club's hardest workers, purely by word of mouth.

O'Nien is often seen doing his own training when visiting the Hornets' London Colney training base and the 19-year-old has already won over new head coach Beppe Sannino.

Last week's pre-Manchester City interview with Sannino was interrupted when the Hornets' boss shouted across the room to O'Nien to tell him "Luke, you are number one.

"I like him. My dream is to give Luke the chance to play his first game as a professional," Sannino added.

O'Nien had been an unused substitute in the first two rounds of the Capital One Cup and a Championship game in November under Gianfranco Zola but has yet to make his professional debut.

The first-year pro was on the bench again for Sannino's second and third games in charge but had not been in the squad for the following three matches due to the arrival of Alexander Merkel and the return of Almen Abdi.

The above is indicative of the challenges Hemel Hempstead' O'Nien faces; coming up against the likes of former Swiss international Almen Abdi and ex-AC Milan midfielder Merkel.

But the likeable youngster, who joined Watford at under-nine level, is seemingly doing everything possible to earn an extension to his one-year contract before it expires in the summer.

Injuries and suspensions may have been a factor but Sannino was delighted to reward O'Nien with a place on the Golden Boys' bench at the Etihad Stadium against Manchester City.

"Luke O’Nien on Saturday was touching the sky," Sannino said. "I saw him playing with the ball before the warm-up and he looked like a happy child. I am happy for him."

Fellow academy graduate Sean Murray also acknowledged O'Nien's incredible work rate after the FA Cup tie.

He said: "Today will have been great for Luke and it is a reward for all of his hard work. You see him out there every day [doing extra training]; he has an unbelievable attitude and being involved in this kind of game is a great reward for him."

O'Nien has always been a good player from a technical point of view but he was smaller than most at youth level.

However, he has had a welcome growth spurt over the last 18 months and the creative midfielder has featured regularly at centre back for the Golden Boys during pre-season and in reserve and Under-21 games.

The Hornets were looking to loan out O'Nien earlier this season but Sannino was keen to keep the youngster at the club due to his attitude towards the club.

Earlier this month, Sannino explained: "When I joined this club the spirit of belonging to Watford was important for me, even though I’m not British.

"And Luke, even though he is young, is like that. It is very satisfying to see him so strongly part of the club on and off the pitch."

"It’s like Lloyd Doyley for his long service. They are two players - one is young and the other is experienced - but they both represent something that all the players should have, they live their lives for Watford."

O’Nien accepts he will have to be patient when it comes to making his debut due to the quality in Watford’s squad.

Speaking in October, he said: "I think anyone in my position wants to be playing first team football and I will be ready whenever I am called upon.

"Whether it is next week, two weeks or next year, I will just stay patient, wait for my opportunity and try to contribute in the best way I can."

Comments (7)

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1:06pm Wed 29 Jan 14

JohnnyBarnes says...

Good message to the fans: I care about your club and about YOUR players
Good message to the squad: Work hard, care about Watford Football Club and I will be all the happier with you for it

I like Sannino.
Good message to the fans: I care about your club and about YOUR players Good message to the squad: Work hard, care about Watford Football Club and I will be all the happier with you for it I like Sannino. JohnnyBarnes
  • Score: 50

1:38pm Wed 29 Jan 14

mooneysmagic says...

Seems Lloyd is already rated by yet another manager.

Hopefully he will be awarded another years contract.
Seems Lloyd is already rated by yet another manager. Hopefully he will be awarded another years contract. mooneysmagic
  • Score: 25

2:41pm Wed 29 Jan 14

bristol hornet says...

If we fail to gather any momentum for a real push for the play offs, I hope that Beppe will give youngsters like O'Nien, Hoban, Connor Smith,and Ikpeachu (spelling?) some real first team action in preparation for next season.
If we fail to gather any momentum for a real push for the play offs, I hope that Beppe will give youngsters like O'Nien, Hoban, Connor Smith,and Ikpeachu (spelling?) some real first team action in preparation for next season. bristol hornet
  • Score: 3

4:05pm Wed 29 Jan 14

andyhooked says...

I think that next year will see a further rotation of players and very few chances for our home grown talent. Hoping for the best for what so far has not been a good season by the standrads set last season. I am WFC through and through but we have lost our way for the time being.
I think that next year will see a further rotation of players and very few chances for our home grown talent. Hoping for the best for what so far has not been a good season by the standrads set last season. I am WFC through and through but we have lost our way for the time being. andyhooked
  • Score: -12

5:32pm Wed 29 Jan 14

babyhornet says...

If he isnt signed to a long term deal it will be a travesty! He is out training for at least 45 minutes after the rest of the team have gone in. He has bags of talent and desire, he never stops when he is playing and gives 100% always. Not only is he a creative midfielder who is good on the ball and can spread it all over the pitch, but he has also been utilised as a part of the back 3 in recent U21 cup fixtures and friendlies.
If he isnt signed to a long term deal it will be a travesty! He is out training for at least 45 minutes after the rest of the team have gone in. He has bags of talent and desire, he never stops when he is playing and gives 100% always. Not only is he a creative midfielder who is good on the ball and can spread it all over the pitch, but he has also been utilised as a part of the back 3 in recent U21 cup fixtures and friendlies. babyhornet
  • Score: 7

5:41pm Wed 29 Jan 14

esercito giallo says...

babyhornet wrote:
If he isnt signed to a long term deal it will be a travesty! He is out training for at least 45 minutes after the rest of the team have gone in. He has bags of talent and desire, he never stops when he is playing and gives 100% always. Not only is he a creative midfielder who is good on the ball and can spread it all over the pitch, but he has also been utilised as a part of the back 3 in recent U21 cup fixtures and friendlies.
Alright Luke's Mum!
[quote][p][bold]babyhornet[/bold] wrote: If he isnt signed to a long term deal it will be a travesty! He is out training for at least 45 minutes after the rest of the team have gone in. He has bags of talent and desire, he never stops when he is playing and gives 100% always. Not only is he a creative midfielder who is good on the ball and can spread it all over the pitch, but he has also been utilised as a part of the back 3 in recent U21 cup fixtures and friendlies.[/p][/quote]Alright Luke's Mum! esercito giallo
  • Score: 7

11:56pm Wed 29 Jan 14

Goldenboy1960 says...

bristol hornet wrote:
If we fail to gather any momentum for a real push for the play offs, I hope that Beppe will give youngsters like O'Nien, Hoban, Connor Smith,and Ikpeachu (spelling?) some real first team action in preparation for next season.
Watch out for Alex Jakubiak above Ikpeazu and Mensah.
[quote][p][bold]bristol hornet[/bold] wrote: If we fail to gather any momentum for a real push for the play offs, I hope that Beppe will give youngsters like O'Nien, Hoban, Connor Smith,and Ikpeachu (spelling?) some real first team action in preparation for next season.[/p][/quote]Watch out for Alex Jakubiak above Ikpeazu and Mensah. Goldenboy1960
  • Score: -1

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