Oliver McBurnie keen to take next step with Bradford City

Oliver McBurnie battles with Bristol City's Derrick Williams last season

McBurnie scores in the final minute of City's FA Youth Alliance Cup final against Colchester at Valley Parade

First published in Sport

EXCITEMENT will mingle with some trepidation when Oliver McBurnie reports for the start of pre-season training.

The 18-year-old striker dipped a toe in the water last term with nine outings for the senior side, so it is nothing new to be sweating it out at Woodhouse Grove with the established names around him.

But this time there will be no fall-back in the youth team. McBurnie is a fully-fledged first-team squad member.

"It's scary to think that I will never play for the youth team again," he said.

"Everyone's aim is to get into the first team, and I've been very fortunate to do that, but I loved every minute of playing for the youths.

"I only played 17 games but still got 29 goals and at least I scored in my final game, even though we lost the final."

McBurnie's double could not save City from a 4-2 defeat to Colchester in the Youth Alliance showpiece.

The U's scorers that night – Macauley Bonne and hat-trick hero Sammie Szmodics – also had League One experience under their belts.

McBurnie said: "When you've had the taste of the first team, like those two lads, and come back down to youth-team level, you almost need to make your point and prove yourself.

"You have to show yourself as well as the gaffer that you want to play at a higher level and that you are good enough to do that. It's like saying 'I don't want to come down and play for the youth team again'.

"But it all changes now. Next season I'll have to push my claims for the first team and there will be no fall-back games.

"If I hadn't been involved last year, I'd been able to go and play for the youth team. It was good to get that game time. But now I've really got to step up because that isn't there any more."

With Phil Parkinson looking to revamp the City squad, there are likely to be some younger faces around the dressing room.

But with the exception of fellow youth-team graduate Niall Heaton, who turns 18 tomorrow, McBurnie is still very much a baby of the bunch.

The teenager does feel a lot more relaxed in his surroundings after spending the bulk of his breakthrough campaign among far more experienced team-mates – but he won't be taking any liberties.

"I still feel like the junior but the lads have been really good with me and helped me settle in," said McBurnie.

"Of course I get shouted at for being the youngest and people telling me to make the teas and things like that on the way to the game but all the senior players will have gone through that when they were my age.

"I do feel they are more like my mates now, whereas before I was looking up in awe at them all.

"I'm definitely feeling a lot more comfortable around the dressing room and on the pitch. I'm getting closer to the younger ones who are more round my age but they are still four years older than me, so I steer clear of giving anyone a bit back just yet."

McBurnie may have negotiated the first rung of the ladder by signing his first proper professional contract but he is under no illusions of the steep climb ahead before he can regard himself as an outright first-team performer.

"Reading some of the statistics, it's a ridiculous low number that go from the youth team into the senior squad," he said.

"Even when people then get first-year pro deals, only so many of them go on to have a career in football. That's the main aim for me.

"When you first get your scholarship, you just think about playing football full time and getting paid for it. It's like a whole new world.

"But then you realise that it is such a massive step to get up to the first team.

"I've been really pleased that I've made that step in a way during last season. But I know there is still such a long way to go.

"When I first came on, I was trying to take everything in, now I want to get on and make as much of a positive effect as I can on the game – I just see myself as another player."

Comments (5)

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11:50am Tue 24 Jun 14

audal says...

there is one area that would be beneficial to mcburnie and heaton and of course the club, THE RESERVES !! how many lads have fallen twixt youth and senior standards ?
there is one area that would be beneficial to mcburnie and heaton and of course the club, THE RESERVES !! how many lads have fallen twixt youth and senior standards ? audal
  • Score: 6

12:21pm Tue 24 Jun 14

rinkydink says...

Even when we did have a reserve team there it didnt really benefit us much. The cost of running a reserve team massively outweighs the benefits for a club like us.

A reduced squad size, an already well established youth team. This is why we have the ad-hoc closed doors games, to get the fitness back for some players and to test the odd junior here and there.

They'll get more noticed in Youth team games than they ever will in the reserves. Look at some of the senior pro's stats.

FA YOUTH cup
England Under 19's etc

never do you see "Reserve team league winners"
Even when we did have a reserve team there it didnt really benefit us much. The cost of running a reserve team massively outweighs the benefits for a club like us. A reduced squad size, an already well established youth team. This is why we have the ad-hoc closed doors games, to get the fitness back for some players and to test the odd junior here and there. They'll get more noticed in Youth team games than they ever will in the reserves. Look at some of the senior pro's stats. FA YOUTH cup England Under 19's etc never do you see "Reserve team league winners" rinkydink
  • Score: 3

12:37pm Tue 24 Jun 14

dannbradfc says...

I'm very interested to see how McBurnie develops from here. He as composure and skill but lacks in a very important area in modern football.....pace. He is young so will fill out but where he will eventually fit into a side is uncertain. he can't gain speed but with the correct training and diet can change his physique. He reminds me at times of a young Teddy sheringham. he wasn't blessed with pace but had a tremendous footie brain.....time will tell if mcburnie as one too.......
I'm very interested to see how McBurnie develops from here. He as composure and skill but lacks in a very important area in modern football.....pace. He is young so will fill out but where he will eventually fit into a side is uncertain. he can't gain speed but with the correct training and diet can change his physique. He reminds me at times of a young Teddy sheringham. he wasn't blessed with pace but had a tremendous footie brain.....time will tell if mcburnie as one too....... dannbradfc
  • Score: -2

4:01pm Tue 24 Jun 14

lawsonio123 says...

Well you can do it you must just keep the same determination to become a good first team player that you showed with the youth team put in the effort which i am sure you will and you can become our New Bannister Work hard and the world is your Oyster
Well you can do it you must just keep the same determination to become a good first team player that you showed with the youth team put in the effort which i am sure you will and you can become our New Bannister Work hard and the world is your Oyster lawsonio123
  • Score: 1

9:19pm Tue 24 Jun 14

Victor Clayton says...

dannbradfc wrote:
I'm very interested to see how McBurnie develops from here. He as composure and skill but lacks in a very important area in modern football.....pace. He is young so will fill out but where he will eventually fit into a side is uncertain. he can't gain speed but with the correct training and diet can change his physique. He reminds me at times of a young Teddy sheringham. he wasn't blessed with pace but had a tremendous footie brain.....time will tell if mcburnie as one too.......
I like him and hope that he is at the club for a few more seasons.
[quote][p][bold]dannbradfc[/bold] wrote: I'm very interested to see how McBurnie develops from here. He as composure and skill but lacks in a very important area in modern football.....pace. He is young so will fill out but where he will eventually fit into a side is uncertain. he can't gain speed but with the correct training and diet can change his physique. He reminds me at times of a young Teddy sheringham. he wasn't blessed with pace but had a tremendous footie brain.....time will tell if mcburnie as one too.......[/p][/quote]I like him and hope that he is at the club for a few more seasons. Victor Clayton
  • Score: 1

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