Rory Holden has expressed his desire to break into the Bristol City first team after making the move from Derry City last week.
The 20-year-old midfielder signed a two year deal with the English club, believed to have earned Derry City around £150,000, after trials in both July and August that impressed City boss Lee Johnston.
Holden flew over to the Championship club on Thursday to complete the deal, which came after he took part in an open training session with the first team in front of a small section of the club’s fans – something that he says was special for him.
“It was a brilliant experience in front of, I don’t know, 1200 odd fans – and they were amazing. It was great that Lee actually involved me in the open training session and I was in there with the first team players, and I think that that will help me in the long run at Bristol City,” explained Holden.
It has been a lengthy enough process for the former St Columb’s College student, who had to prove himself on more than one occasion before penning the deal, but after impressing on both of those trial weeks he is delighted to have finally put pen to paper.
“I came over in July just past and had a couple of days trial with the under 23s and played a friendly game with them then I went back to Derry,” the former Candy Stripe said.
“I returned then on Monday there and had another three day trial with the first team, so its been going on now for a couple of months and I’m just happy now to get it over the line.”
One of the personal highlights in a Derry City shirt for the former Top of the Hill Celtic man was seeing his name in the starting eleven against FC Midtjylland this summer, and despite what was in the end a heavy defeat for Kenny Shiels team, the midfielder feels that experience will serve him well as he starts a new life across the water.
“I broke into the first team at Derry last season and then made a few appearances then this season I played six or seven and was unexpectedly selected to be in the starting eleven against FC Midtyjlland in the Europa League,” Holden recalled.
“That was crazy, but I think the experience of playing in Europe will help me drastically going into my Bristol City career. You learn so much from the players – their movement and everything about them and their game.”
While Bristol were fighting for their lives in the Championship last year, Holden believes the move is a momentous step in his career.
“I think it’s a step up from Derry City to come across to Bristol. They’re a massive club with a great fan base so for me its something that is only going to further my career as a footballer.”
He will start life with his new club with the under 23 side, but with manager Johnston unafraid to call on his young reserves, the local lad is confident he will get his chance.
“I’d like to cement my place firstly in the 23s and then hopefully over time I can show to Lee and to the other coaches that I am good enough to play with the first team, just like Freddie Hines for example, so here’s hoping in the future that I will break in,” he concluded.
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