Young Carlisle United defender Josh O’Brien has been urged to make the most of his “great potential” at Workington Reds.

The big teenager is spending time on loan with Danny Grainger’s side.

Reds boss Grainger has taken a chance on O’Brien after coaching him in United’s academy set-up.

And O’Brien’s Under-18 manager at Carlisle, Mark Birch, says he and his colleagues have had some “harsh” words with the 17-year-old in recent times.

“Josh is a player who’s got great potential,” said Birch.

“Because of his size, he’s a good athlete.

“What he didn’t really do was believe in himself. He needed to work harder, and we had some real harsh conversations with him about working harder, about [the idea that] ‘We can’t just do it with you, you’ve got to work on your own, you’ve got to make sure you go in the gym and work so your body’s capable of handling the size of your body’.

“In the last three or four weeks he’s done that.”

O’Brien’s work experience move was sealed last week with Grainger’s visits to Brunton Park key in securing the deal.

“Danny comes in and does a couple of sessions with him,” added Birch.

“He lost a centre-half and said he’d take a gamble on him.

“It’s up to him now.

“It’s great for Josh – playing in front of 7-800 people every week at Workington, it’s the next thing in his progress that he needs.”

Birch said O’Brien has also been receiving some firm words of advice from former Blues star Paul Boertien.

News and Star: Paul Boertien, pictured in his playing days at Carlisle, has been advising Josh O'BrienPaul Boertien, pictured in his playing days at Carlisle, has been advising Josh O'Brien (Image: News & Star)

The former left-back, who coaches in United’s academy, was a home-grown star at Brunton Park in the 1990s and knows all about the challenges and pitfalls of making the grade.

“Paul has been having a lot of chats with him as well, saying ‘Listen, you’re gonna waste it if you don’t wake up’,” added Birch.

“Everything you achieve in football comes down to you. I think Paul had a word with him about making sacrifices along the way.

“These are the kind of people we’ve got in and around the lads now. Hopefully they do listen to the advice they get, and everyone wishes Josh all the best.”