TEENAGER Lewis O’Brien is ahead of the game, according to City boss David Hopkin.

The 19-year-old has hit the ground running since Hopkin threw him into his injury-hit team.

The on-loan midfielder is well regarded by parent club Huddersfield and is their current academy player of the year.

But Hopkin has been impressed by how well he has made the jump to the senior ranks as he prepares to pit the youngster with namesake Jim O’Brien again in the City engine room.

Hopkin said: “Lewis has fantastic strength and ability for a young boy. You wouldn’t think he was only 19 years of age.

“His energy and drive is great and he showed real composure last week. He’s years above where he should be.

“I thought he would tire but he never. He just kept running and running.

“He’s a young player and sometimes he might make the wrong pass. But that will come with the more games he plays.”

Hopkin’s track record at Livingston – and Morton before them – proves he is not scared to blood youngsters and stick with them.

But he feels you must strike a careful balance between youth and experience.

“You’ve got to find the right blend,” added the head coach. “You can’t have a team full of older players or a team full of kids.

“We must find the mixture and I’m sure we will.

“Younger kids are getting a chance at this moment in time. You see young Eliot Goldthorp on the bench at 16 and Reece Staunton has also been with us.

“All these kids are players who, if they do well, will continue to come with us.

“It’s important that they gain the experience of a big matchday. I’m sure they love being there on a Saturday.

“It gives them the extra incentive when they go back to training with the under-18s on a Monday or Tuesday, they know they want to come back and feel it again.”

Eoin Doyle is set to continue as skipper at Doncaster but Hopkin insists it is not a major talking point.

He said: “Some players can’t handle the pressure of wearing that armband. But he’s an experienced player and works hard up there.

“It could change again. It all depends how long Josh is out – he’s the captain of the club until anything else changes.

“These things may be big issues for other people but for me the main thing is we get a team on the field who are competitive. It’s not about armbands or who’s this or that.”