Southampton FC prospect Derrick Abu enjoys 'amazing' debut on loan at Harrogate Town
The 20-year-old defender only joined the Sulphurites on loan on Thursday evening following Kayne Ramsay’s big-money move from Wetherby Road to League One Charlton Athletic during the final hours of the January transfer window.
And the former Chelsea and England under-17 international was thrown in right at the deep end against League Two leaders Stockport County on Saturday, playing the full game at right-back as Town came away with a creditable 1-1 draw.
Abu hadn’t experienced even a minute of competitive first-team action prior to running out at Edgeley Park, and it wasn’t just Harrogate’s players whom he impressed with his assured showing.
"Derrick coming in today, he has proven that he is a cool customer and he is going to be great for us,” Town manager Simon Weaver said. “It was a brilliant debut.
"For a lad making his Football League debut, it was an amazing debut. After the game, the lads gave him a round of applause.
"For me, he defended astutely, and for someone so young, performed so maturely. He was very composed and calm.”
On his decision to chuck Abu in from the start less than 28 hours after he put pen to paper on a loan contract which runs until the end of the season, Weaver explained:
"I don’t think that Derrick has ever been as far north. He’s based right down in Southampton and had a long journey up Thursday night and signed.
"I rang him when he was on his way, he was just heading towards Nottingham and I said ‘as long as you get up here safely and find your destination, you are going to be playing on Saturday, so I hope that you have brought your boots.’
"I brought him in because Kayne was going and when you look at our depth of squad compared to most at this level, we haven't got lots and lots of players.
"Toby Sims dropped out on Friday and if we didn't have Derrick, we are looking at Levi Sutton, who is a central midfielder, playing right-back and you can get too stretched eventually.
"So, we brought him in to have every chance of being good enough to prove himself to play every week, but at the same time we do need a level of competition for places.”
Saturday’s result at top-of-the-table Stockport means that Town are unbeaten in five games and have now lost just one of their previous 10 league outings, a run which has seen them record six victories and elevated them to eighth-place in the table.
They now sit level on points with Notts County, who occupy the division’s last play-off berth.