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York City's Lanre Oyebanjo hits right note for versatility
LANRE Oyebanjo is hoping his versatility will keep him in York City’s first XI.
The former West Ham schoolboy has played both as a right-back and an attacking midfielder at separate stages of the last two Minstermen matches.
Oyebanjo, 22, reckons such flexibility can prove advantageous in a squad where nobody is guaranteed a starting shirt.
Last season’s 20-goal top scorer Matty Blair spent a long spell on the bench at the start of the current campaign, while £60,000 striker Jason Walker was dropped at the weekend after previously being an ever-present during 2012/13.
Specialist midfielders such as Paddy McLaughlin, Jonathan Smith, Lee Bullock and Michael Potts have also all fallen behind supposedly out-of-position players like Dan Parslow, Oyebanjo and Blair in the pecking order this season.
Ex-Republic of Ireland under-21 international Oyebanjo, who has started City’s last three matches, has underlined the importance of playing to your full potential in every match, whether in your most-recognised position or not.
He said: “I feel I am best at right-back. That’s where I feel natural but I am more than happy, if the gaffer wants to put me in midfield, to do a job for the team to the best of my ability.
“It’s all about working hard to get my name on that team-sheet whatever the position and being able to occupy two positions gives the gaffer options and gives me more of a chance of being in the team. We have a very competitive squad and, if you are not on your game, the gaffer will change things around.
“You’ve got to put in 100 per cent and fight for your place whatever position you play in because there are a lot of players who can play in numerous positions like Dan Parslow and Jon Challinor.”
Oyebanjo is also no newcomer to midfield, having started out there in men’s football.
“At 16, I was playing for Waltham Forest as part of a midfield three in the Ryman League division one north and enjoyed it even though I’ve always favoured playing at right-back,” he recalled.
“Playing in midfield is a challenge but I enjoy trying to get to knock-downs and perhaps popping off a shot. I will take a strike if things open up and I have the pace to push on.”
Oyebanjo agrees with manager Gary Mills’ belief that he has a spectacular goal in his locker too and could look to participate in more Wigginton Road shooting drills in coming weeks.
“I think it’s coming,” said Oyebanjo, on the possibility of a net-bulging strike.
“Against Wimbledon, I missed a header but then the goalkeeper pulled off a great save from my shot and I know that, if I can strike the ball right and get in on target, I can work the ’keeper.
“Maybe I will work on that a bit because more and more opportunities are arising for me to hit the target and put one in. Even though I’m with the defenders for the majority of the time in training, I went with the strikers last Friday and I might do that more often now.”