As career moves go, slagging off your employers in print is not the brightest idea.

Leon Osborne’s days at Valley Parade looked numbered when he jokingly took a pop at City on his personal webpage.

It may have seemed a harmless prank for his pals at the time but the teenager was left in no doubt about the repercussions.

Osborne was disciplined by the club and an unimpressed Stuart McCall made it clear he had to “prove himself on the football field not on websites.”

Eighteen months on and the situation is considerably brighter for the youngster, who made his full debut ten days ago in the FA Cup win at MK Dons.

Osborne is still walking on thin ice. His current contract is up at the end of the year.

But he has given himself a fighting chance of getting another deal with the way he has responded to the manager’s ultimatum.

McCall said: “Leon’s not a bad lad but just a bit of a kid at times. We all do silly things and he just needed to mature.

“But as a youth player, the coaches can only do so much and then you’re left to your own devices. I always thought it would help him when he came in full-time and mixing it with professional lads and learning professional habits.

“The contract was a wake-up call. He was probably expecting a year or two-year deal, which his football ability merited, but with the silly little things he’s done off the pitch, we wanted to keep him on his toes.

“We don’t put a private detective on him outside the football club but Leon seems to have learned the lesson. His professionalism is excellent and he’s doing everything we’ve asked of him.”

McCall is giving no clues on whether Osborne will still be in his plans come January 1 but he has been delighted with the Doncaster-born midfielder’s performances in the reserves and on the training pitch.

“His football ability is without question,” added the City chief. “Leon has moulded in and looks comfortable and he’s probably one of the best players in the reserve team.

“That’s what I want to see from players who aren’t in the first team. At the beginning of the season, Luke O’Brien was excellent for the reserves and I had no doubts in my mind if anything happened to Hecky (Paul Heckingbottom), O’B would be ready to go in.

“Everybody who plays in the reserves knows they are getting judged all the time on their performances as well as how they do in training. Leon has earned his chance in the squad.”

City fans got their first glimpse of Osborne as a late substitute in the final game in League One. Caretaker-boss David Wetherall gave him a run-out against Millwall, just before the internet comments came to light.

He didn’t feature at all last season but McCall proved that he doesn’t bear grudges by drawing up a first senior contract in the summer.

And the 19-year-old came in from the cold when he was named on the bench ahead of Willy Topp at Accrington last month.

His first start against Milton Keynes was a quiet one but given the quality of opponent in Dean Lewington, arguably the best left back in the lower divisions, that was perhaps not too surprising.

But having had a taste of senior life, McCall will ensure that Osborne does not ease off. With his deadline approaching, there will be no slipping back into old ways.

McCall said: “Leon knows he’s living on a knife edge at the moment. There’s still another four to six weeks before we decide about him.

“He knows he’s going in the right direction but it’s not the time for him to take his foot off the gas.

“I want his desire to still be the same. His hunger has got to be there.

“He’s had that little breakthrough but that’s not the end of it. He’s got to kick on and show me that he wants the first-team shirt regularly.”