The Football League Paper - - INSIDE - By Chris Bai­ley

HE WAS kicked to the kerb by boy­hood club Wat­ford in the sum­mer but Luke O’Nien’s mantra is sim­ple – don’t get an­gry, get even.

All O’Nien had ever known was the Hor­nets and af­ter 12 years worth of hard graft, his sole re­ward was a throw­away few min­utes as a sub­sti­tute against Barns­ley in 2014.

It’s lit­tle won­der then that the mid­fielder be­lieves he left the club with­out re­ceiv­ing a fair crack of the whip, but he did not spend the sum­mer mulling over what could have been.

In­stead the 21-year-old put his head down at for­mer Wat­ford youth player Ben Herd’s St Al­bans-based academy – and this time his ef­fort has reaped re­wards.

Gareth Ainsworth was suf­fi­ciently im­pressed enough to hand O’Nien a one-year con­tract at Wy­combe fol­low­ing a trial and he has barely been out of the team since.


And while all of his en­ergy is fo­cused on the Chair­boys’ play-off push, he wouldn’t mind a chance to show Wat­ford ex­actly what they gave up on.

“It was not the best way of find­ing out, two weeks af­ter the sea­son fin­ished, but that’s the harsh re­al­ity of foot­ball,” he said.

“But I’m not one to sulk. As soon as I found out the news, I went straight to work and that’s what I’ve al­ways been like.

“I had no idea how things would pan out, but I did a lot of work at the Ben Herd Pro Per­for­mance Academy, where I’ve spent a lot of time over the last few years.

“I did a lot of one-to-one ses­sions with him over the sum­mer to make sure I was ready for what­ever would be next and the trial with Wy­combe even­tu­ally came up.

“Peo­ple have dif­fer­ent opin­ions about you just be­cause it doesn’t work out some­where, but it’s put more fuel in the tank to prove them wrong.

“Maybe one day we can get a cup draw against Wat­ford and I can show them why.”

Ainsworth will have seen much of him­self in O’Nien – an­other tech­ni­cally gifted mid­fielder, he was re­jected by Black­burn Rovers as a young­ster be­fore carv­ing out a fine ca­reer in the Foot­ball League.

“The man­ager has helped me a lot too, he has been there and done it and he knows the sit­u­a­tion I was in from when he was a player,” O’Nien added.

“I was very grate­ful to him and all the staff for my op­por­tu­nity and hope­fully I can re­pay the faith week in, week out and show what I can do in ev­ery game.”

Fol­low­ing yes­ter­day’s FA Cup tie against As­ton Villa, it’s back to busi­ness in League Two, where Wy­combe were nicely perched in sixth place head­ing into the week­end.

But O’Nien says Ainsworth has told the team to con­cen­trate on a magic num­ber – 61 points – be­fore they dare dream about pro­mo­tion.

“Our tar­get at the start of the sea­son was 61 points and then we’ll re­assess when we get there,” he said.

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Im­ages

IN CON­TROL: Wy­combe’s Luke O’Nien has bounced back from his Wat­ford woe. In­set: Ben Herd

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