After his deadline day move to Bristol City, youngster Rory Holden is enjoying life with the Championship club.
The ex-Derry City man, who was drafted into Ian Baraclough’s N Ireland U21 squad last week, has already forced his way into City’s first team squad for their FA Cup loss to Premiership side Watford.
“It was a bit of a surprise at the time,” insisted Holden.
“But obviously the manager Lee Johnson must see something in me and hopefully, that’s the first of many chances to be in and around the first team squad as I hope I can kick-on.
“To be honest. it has been a great first season.
“Playing U23 level with Bristol has been super. I have settled in well. All the players and coaching staff have made me feel very welcome, so I’m very pleased with my performances for the U23s which have meant I got into Ian Baraclough’s U21 side. Hopefully now I can just kick-on for the remainder of the season.”
For Derry City to have so many players away on international duty, that have come through their academy is a credit to them and the coaching staffRory Holden
The one time Top of Hill Celtic starlet conceded that the move to the Championship promotion hopefuls has been a big step up in class.
“Obviously Derry is a very good club but it’s a massive step up going to a team like Bristol City,” he added.
“I was never going to go in straight away to their first team. I have had to build myself up and here’s hoping now that I have a good end to the season and then maybe next season look to be in the manager’s mind for the start of the season. If not maybe I will go out on loan and get some more experience.”
On Monday night Holden, along with his old Candy Stripes team-mates Ciaron Harkin, Conor McDermott, Ben Doherty and Jamie McDonagh were all in the N Ireland U21 squad and the one time St. Columb’s College student was quick to praise his former club, which had no less than seven players away on international duty last week.
The likes of Ronan Curtis and Rory and Ronan Hale were all away playing and starring for Republic of Ireland U21’s side which had two impressive victories over Iceland and Azerbaijan.
“When Ian (Baraclough) rang me last Thursday, I was straight onto Conor McDermott and telling him that I was in the squad. It was great to be back with the boys for the last eight days, because it has been a while since I saw them,” he confirmed.
“For Derry City to have so many people away on international duty, players who have come through their academy, is a credit to them and the coaching staff.”
Despite being away from Derry since August, Holden keeps in regular contact with how Kenny Shiels’ charges are getting on each week and he can’t wait to return to the Brandywell cheering on his friends.
“I have been listening to the games on Drive 105 every week and having won their last two games at the Brandywell convincingly, here’s hoping now Derry now have a good season.
“I’m hoping over the summer when I’m back I’ll be able to get to a few games and actually experience the whole atmosphere as a fan sitting in the stand and cheering the boys on.”
The 20-year-old, who played his part in the Bristol’s U23’s recent win over Premier League side Liverpool U23s, believes that moving to a full-time set up in England has made him physically stronger.
“Everything at Bristol, is very scientific,” he stated.
“They have chefs who cook you everything and they know what you are eating.
“In the gym they have everything planned out for you, it’s just a different world altogether.”