Osho backed to continue his learning curve with the Hatters by Town chief Jones

Defender makes his return to the side for the first time since early November

By Mike Simmonds
Friday, 28th January 2022, 6:30 am
Gabe Osho clears the danger against Bristol City in the week
Gabe Osho clears the danger against Bristol City in the week

Defender Gabe Osho has been backed to continue his learning curve with the Hatters and develop into a fine Championship defender following his first start in over two months against Bristol City on Tuesday night.

The 23-year-old made six starts from the opening nine league games, but then following the 2-1 defeat at Bournemouth in September, only began two of the next 16 matches.

Osho was used off the bench seven times in that run though, before returning as Town saw off the Robins 2-1 at Kenilworth Road.

Coming through the ranks at the Royals, he only played seven times in the second tier during his four years at the Madejski Stadium, as on what he needs to develop even further with the Hatters, he said: "It’s about learning the position because he’s very front footed.

"Sometimes he can look unplayable, he backs himself, sometimes he will be too rash.

"The goal at Bournemouth we gave him a specific job to do in terms of man-marking Philip Billing and he did that wonderfully.

"Then one moment he tries to do someone else’s job, Billing goes off the back of him and scores.

"That is the learning curve for him but we love him.

"He’s an athlete, he’s a character, he’s aggressive, everything we wanted from a defensive player and he’s developing in possession.

"It’s about learning the position, you have to understand he’s played more Championship games this season than he has in his whole career.

"He went out on loan (to Rochdale) and was comfortable at League One level and he showed this is his level at least and it’s just about learning the position that’s all.”

On why he brought Osho in against the Robins and pushed Glen Rea into holding midfield, rather than drop the former Brighton player into the back-line instead, Jones continued: “The reason we played Gabe was because (Antoine) Semenyo is quick, very quick and on the counter attack, Bristol City are a real potent side.

"We needed real pace and athleticism to combat that if any recovery runs were needed.

"I thought he was excellent because Semenyo didn’t get an opportunity, whereas against Fulham he scored two wonderful counter-attacking goals against the best side in the league.

"We pick certain players for certain games, we don’t like to make wholesale changes, but when we do there is usually a massive reason for it.”

With Sonny Bradley injured and Reece Burke suspended, Osho was one of six changes in total and part of a much-changed defence which saw Tom Lockyer back in for the first time since November 27 as well.

Jones was eager to praise the altered trio, adding: "I thought we were excellent defensively.

"We defended our box really, really well, there isn’t many front three like that in the league.

"Regardless of league position, that is as good a front three in the league.

"Chris Martin is perennial around the promotion places and a very good number nine, Semenyo has power and pace, he’s also really unorthodox and they have a real clever, excellent, intelligent footballer in (Andreas) Weimann.

"The front three is variation, as complete a front three as you are likely to see at this level.

"For us, with the greatest of respect, with Gabe coming in, Lockyer who hasn’t played since October, to limit them to very little shows that we were very resolute, defended well and had a good shape about us.”