Rookie Bantams striker McBurnie enjoying 'whirlwind' start to career (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Rookie Bantams striker Oliver McBurnie enjoying whirlwind ride as he reveals confidence growing with every game
Oliver McBurnie says nothing fazes him any more after making his full debut in front of 18,000 fans against Rotherham
It was not the tastiest Christmas dinner that Oliver McBurnie has ever tucked into.
But then the young City striker had more on his plate than the traditional roast turkey and all the trimmings.
With Phil Parkinson shorn of strikers because of injury, the 17-year-old was on the verge of making his first senior start in the Boxing Day derby with Rotherham.
So McBurnie was happy to make the sacrifice while the rest of his family filled their faces.
“I had a bit of broccoli and a potato and that was about it,” he laughed. “I knew I had to watch what I was eating.
“I’ve had better Christmas dinners but I didn’t want to have too much and end up not feeling right. I was nervous all the way through as it was.
“The gaffer had pulled me in his office on Christmas Eve and told me it looked like I would start. I was probably the last resort!
“He didn’t think Andy Gray would be all right to play, Hans (James Hanson) was out so I don’t think there were many other players.
“So for two days I was nervous but also really excited. The gaffer said he had trust in me and was happy to throw me in the deep end.
“It was a shame about the result but I loved every minute of it. It was worth missing out on the pigs in blankets!”
Saturday’s appearance for the final quarter at Wolves was his eighth appearance of the season, having made another start against Bristol City – which saw him twice go close to scoring right in front of the Kop.
“It would have been unreal. But the pitch was a bit boggy and when I cut back across, my left foot let me down.
“The keeper also made a save from a backheel but I felt myself growing in confidence having those chances. I wanted to make things happen – that’s what my game is about.
“Unfortunately, I didn’t get the goal but I feel it’s coming. I might have a celebration in the locker but I think the emotions will probably get the better of me!
“I think throwing me in at the deep end did me the world of good. After playing against Rotherham in front of 18,000 people, it doesn’t get much bigger, so now I feel ready for anything.
“Nothing fazes me anymore. It feels normal when I go on, which is what I want it to do. I want to have as much of an impact as I can and score for the team.
“The gaffer’s got faith in me and a couple of times I’ve been the first sub he’ll make. That gives you a massive boost.
“He has been so helpful, talking to me all the time. He’ll pull me aside in training if there’s something he feels I need to work on and I can’t explain how much confidence he has given me.
“I feel I’m getting more and more confident with each game. I’m progressing well and everything is good.”
Time is very much on McBurnie’s side. With the security of a three-year contract, the teenage prospect is not under pressure to deliver from the off.
The Christmas call-up was through necessity. In Parkinson’s words, he wants to “drip-feed” the striker into City’s line-up.
McBurnie is happy to go along with the long-term planning and snap up the opportunities whenever they come.
He only has to look back 12 months to see how far he has already shot up the Valley Parade ladder.
“This time last year I was just coming back from my back injury. I’d been out for about four months.
“It’s all happened ridiculously quickly. It’s like a whirlwind for me and I’m still trying to get my head round everything.
“If I get disappointed about not playing at any point, I only have to talk to my family and get reminded that this time last year I was struggling to get in the youth team.”
McBurnie’s name first came to prominence last summer when he guested for Manchester United in the prestigious Milk Cup in Northern Ireland – and finished the tournament’s top scorer.
Goals for fun followed in the youth team, including four hat-tricks, which elevated him into the senior squad. In terms of City appearances, he was the most experienced sub on duty at Molineux.
Scotland have also taken note. A third international training camp beckons with the under-18s, including the possibility of a first game.
McBurnie added: “To make my international debut as well as my first-team debut would be unreal. There are no words to describe how good that would be.
“I’m only 17 and the gaffer keeps reiterating that I’ve got a contract here until 2016. He doesn’t want to rush me and put too much pressure on my shoulders.
“There’s no need to, so he’ll give me a little taste here and there. It’s all good for my development and hopefully I will go on to a long and successful career.”
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