Barnsley: Derby defender in Reds loan move link as youngster signs

Reported Barnsley loan target Mark O'Brien

Reported Barnsley loan target Mark O'Brien

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Barnsley have been tipped to make a loan move for Derby County defender Mark O’Brien.

The 21-year-old is looking to get his promising career back on track having not played senior football in the last 16 months.

He went under the knife last March after rest failed to rid him of a knee cartilage issue.

O’Brien came through the Derby Academy and has made 35 appearances for the first team.

The Irishman has had terrible luck with injuries, undergoing four operations already.

He had a fault heart valve repaired at the age of 17, had surgery on an ankle injury and suffered cruciate ligament damage in 2013.

O’Brien has one year left on his contract at Derby.

The Reds are expected to face competition from Sheffield United for the defender.

George Smith has become the third Academy graduate of the summer to sign a professional contract at Oakwell.

The Barnsley-born left back has joined Nana Boakye-Yiadom and George Maris in penning senior terms.

Smith has played in more than 100 games during his two-year scholarship and believes his match experience will stand him in good stead.

“It never took a toll on my body,” he told the Reds’ website. “I’ve always been well looked after and there was no objections to me playing three games a week sometimes.

“It all came naturally to me, so it was a case of if I was needed for the U21s, I’d play.

“I got more and more experience playing against seasoned pros. That has prepared me quite well and given me some good experiences.”

Smith hopes to be part of Danny Wilson’s first team plans in League One next season.

He said: “My aim for next season is to come back flying, fit, healthy and strong.

“I’m going to show Danny Wilson what I’m about and I want to get on the pitch week in, week out.”