Town secure signature of versatile young defender
• Former Derby defender Mark O’Brien
• 22-year-old played at U21 level for Republic of Ireland
• On-loan at Motherwell last season
• Also adapt at playing in midfield
• Penned two-year contract
Republic of Ireland Under-21 international defender Mark O’Brien has agreed a two-year deal to become the Town’s 10th signing of the summer.
The highly-rated 22-year-old, who was released by Derby last month, enhances the Hatters’ choice in central defence.
O’Brien, who featured has the trialist in both halves against Farense in Tuesday’s warm-up match in Portugal, can also operate at full-back and I central midfield.
Spotted by the Rams playing for Cherry Orchard – a club in the Dublin and District League – he joined the Derby academy and made his first team debut as a 16-year-old.
Mark’s performances in the youth team at Pride Park led to him being named scholar of the year in 2009 – the same season in which he was awarded with the Republic of Ireland’s under-19 player of the year.
However, in November 2009, O’Brien needed heart surgery to correct a valve problem but he made a full recovery to resume his scholarship with the Rams.
He turned professional and soon became a regular in the Derby defence in 2011/12, making 21 appearances, but his progress was halted in December 2011 when he damaged his cruciate ligaments in training.
Having recovered once more, he returned to the Rams’ line-up in October 2012 and made 11 appearances but he succumbed to a knee injury.
Hailed by ex-Rams boss Nigel Clough for his determination, the young defender missed the entire 2013/14 campaign but last season be bounced back to fitness and found form during a loan spell at Motherwell in the Scottish Premiership where he played 21 times.
It was while with the Well that John Still scouted the defender – at the same time the Town boss also watched fellow new signing Stephen O’Donnell.
A big welcome to Kenilworth Road, Mark!