O’Dowda has gone off-grid to reach potential

Callum O’Dowda has now gone beyond the point in his career, for both club and country, where he is viewed as a bright prospect.

O’Dowda has gone off-grid to reach potential

Callum O’Dowda has now gone beyond the point in his career, for both club and country, where he is viewed as a bright prospect.

The Republic of Ireland winger turned 24 at the end of April so talk of potential and being one for the future doesn’t quite sit right.

“You don’t want to be labelled that for too long,” he insists.

And yet, there are times when he still feels it around Mick McCarthy’s squad.

Just this week, for example, the players split into various groups for a keep-ball exercise as part of their warm-up in training with the youngest in each having to go in the middle.

O’Dowda was shoved forward by Glenn Whelan.

“I was like ‘I can’t be the youngest?!’ But I was, I still want to be seen as a player that has played a lot of games.”

Fifteen times he has worn his country’s jersey — all under previous manager Martin O’Neill — and a troublesome knee injury which hampered him for most of last season meant he missed Mick McCarthy’s opening Euro 2020 qualifiers with Gibraltar and Georgia.

Despite knowing he would be unavailable, O’Dowda made the trip to Dublin for the international awards so he could make his introductions with the new manager and his staff.

“I felt it was the right thing to do,” he explains.

It has only been during the last fortnight, however, that the Bristol City player has seen the similarities between his old and new international bosses.

“Since I’ve got to know Mick over the last two weeks, I would say that they share the same qualities in getting the best out of players.

"Mick is constantly chatting to me during and after training and although I don’t know him as well as others having missed the last trip, I feel that we are all in the same boat.

"There is definitely a good relationship there.”

At club level, his displays last year caught the attention of Leeds United, who expressed their interest in January, yet his last game for City was on March 12.

Injury was part of the reason for such a long absence, yet there have been reports of a stand-off with manager Lee Johnson because of O’Dowda’s unwillingness to sign a new contract.

His current deal runs out next summer, meaning his value will only plummet from this point, but the player himself is paying no attention to the rumours.

“Some players will be reading it. I’d rather get on with it and leave it to one side. You have to really because you can’t let it affect you.

"Some players will read stuff in the papers and then speak about it on the bus and you can see how it affects them.”

O’Dowda also made the decision to deactivate his social media accounts because he felt it was only causing harm.

“Just getting hate and stuff. That’s why I’m not on Twitter or Instagram, I don’t have them on my phone.

"It’s a big thing really. People don’t see how it affects players. I haven’t seen it this season but I have seen it in previous seasons with younger players looking at what certain people are saying.

"I’ve not seen it at international level. I keep away from it.

“I suppose everything is online,” he continued. “I just don’t go looking for it really.

"Having all the social media apps, you are going to get some stuff through. But for me as an example, I don’t have Twitter on my phone and even if close friends message me, I won’t see it.

"The only way they can get me is through my phone number, really.

“You can get abuse on the pitch as well, so you’ll get it regardless. But it’s more on social media, because it is the Love Island generation.

"When I was at Oxford United, you are getting the comments and the family hear it and you think to yourself that you don’t want to leave yourself open to all that.

“I know players who have people who look after the accounts. That’s the way it is nowadays.

"Someone said to me years ago at Oxford, you don’t need to listen to anyone except your manager. It’s good for your head I suppose.”

Spoken like someone who is ready to show he has now grown up for his country.

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