One To Watch - Garry O`Connor
Garry O`Connor has been outlined by Vital QPR`s Nik, as Birmingham`s 'one to watch` ahead of Tuesday night`s clash at Loftus Road.
O`Connor began his career at Hibernian, and was given his debut against Dundee by current Birmingham gaffer Alex McLeish. That appearance, however, did not quite kick start the 6 ft 1 frontman striker`s career.
O`Connor made no further appearance under McLeish, and it was only when McLeish moved to Reading that O`Connor was given his chance by Franck Sauzée, and later Bobby Williamson. O`Connor notched his first goal for the club in a 1-1 draw against Celtic, before going on to score nine goals in the 2001/02 campaign, including five in five consecutive games.
O`Connor`s fine form didn`t go unnoticed either, and he was called into the Scotland squad in the summer of 2002, making his debut against South Korea.
The Scottish striker carried on in a steady manner, grabbing a further seven goals (from 16 starts) in the 2002/03 season, before suffering a disappointing 2003/04, finding the net just five times in 33 League appearances.
Nevertheless, the appointment of Tony Mowbray as Hibernian manager in May 2004 led to a huge improvement in the form of O`Connor. A successful partnership was created with Derek Riordan, with the pair notching 42 goals between them in an extremely successful season for Hibs`, as they finished 3rd in the SPL.
O`Connor`s fine form that season earned him another chance with Scotland, and he grabbed his first goal for the national team against Austria in August 2005.
The striker enjoyed another fairly successful 2005/06 season, hitting 14 goals in all competitions, as various clubs became interested in securing the services of the striker.
In February 2006, Lokomotiv Moscow had a bid of £1.6 Million accepted for O`Connor and he eventually completed his move to the Russian capital in early March. O`Connor went on to score seven goals in 33 appearances for the Russian club, including the winner against city rivals FK Moscow in the Russian Cup Final.
O`Connor never really settled in Russia, and it came as no surprise when a move back to British football was secured, with Birmingham shelling out £2.65 Million. The Edinburgh born forward found first team starts hard to come by in the 2007/08 season, and started just five games as Birmingham were relegated.
This season has started well for O`Connor. Birmingham currently sit pretty at the top of the Championship, and find themselves 6 points clear of 3rd place Reading already. The stocky front-man has helped himself to five goals already, including three in his last two games.
O`Connor`s height and strength will definitely cause problems for Damion Stewart and Fitz Hall on Tuesday night, and the Rangers` centre backs will have to match Saturday`s excellent defensive display at Reading to ensure that O`Connor does not add to his five goals this term.
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