EXCLUSIVE BY CONOR O’Sullivan
Millwall winger Fred Onyedinma believes his age is not a factor in terms of becoming a regular starter as the 20-year-old settles into his fifth senior season at the Den.
The academy graduate has made six starts this season but is relaxed about his development under manager Neil Harris.
The Lions travel to Sunderland on Saturday on the back of consecutive defeats against Sheffield Wednesday and Burton Albion.
Onyedinma started the game at Hillsborough and was a late substitute at home to Burton.
He said: “I don’t think my age makes a difference as I’ve already played a lot of first team games.
“If you’re good enough, you will play no matter what, so age is irrelevant in many respects. It’s up to me to keep improving and make sure I do get in a positon where I’m starting games regularly.
“I made my debut in the Championship a few years ago and I’ve come through a lot with Millwall over the past few seasons so I want to do everything I can to help the team stay in the league.
“We’re aware of the issues Sunderland are having and maybe we can use their recent form to our advantage if the crowd gets on their back.
“But they still have some very good players and this game could be a turning point for them if we’re not at our best.”
Onyedinma signed a long-term contract last summer to keep him at the Den until at least 2020 and believes Harris is the right man to maximise his potential at the club he joined as a 12-year-old.
The Nigerian, who grew up in Greenwich, Plumsted and Woowich has long been considered a precocious talent but has yet to represent England at any age level. He qualifies for the Nigerian national team as he was born in Lagos.
He said: “The long-term contract gives me great security and confidence knowing the club has that much belief in me. I have goals for myself but my immediate aim is to become a regular starter.
“I’ve known the manger for a long time and he wants what’s best for my career and he believes in the academy players at this club. It’s special playing with the lads I grew up with and there’s a good age balance in the playing squad.
“I’ve never received an England call-up and playing international football is a level you want to be selected for at any age group.
“But I must be patient and hopefully an opportunity will come along.
“I’m not concerned about when I’ll play international football. My entire career could change in a few months because football is a very unpredictable game and things can change very quickly.
“Both my parents are Nigerian and I was also born there so I feel a strong affiliation with the country.
“It would be no fuss to play for them. They have an excellent team so it’s very difficult to make their squad.
“I’ve had some contact with their association and I visited the team once before a friendly game but at the moment I’m just focusing on performing at my best for Millwall.”
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