Striker discusses first Royals senior appearanceRoyals forward Rowan Liburd said that he just tried to embrace the experience as he made his first ever Football League appearance, as he came from the bench on Saturday to make a debut against Cardiff City.
The striker, who was representing Billericay in the Ryman League just six months ago, has been a feature of Martin Kuhl’s Under-21 group at the start of the new campaign and has netted an impressive eight goals in seven appearances for the youth side.
But hard work on the training field has also paved the way for the youngster to get involved in the first team – and after three appearances as an unused sub, he was involved for the final half-hour against the Bluebirds as a first-team player.
“It was a great experience to get out there,” said Liburd. “I’ve worked hard and the opportunity has come. So hopefully I’ll get the opportunity to go out there again sometime soon.
“It was always the goal for me to get into the pro game, even when I was at Billericay. But playing in the Championship has come really quickly and I’m just trying to embrace it all now. I’ll do anything to help the team; I’ve scored some goals for the Under-21s which has been good for the team and my confidence.”
Given that he was playing in the seventh tier last season, following a scholarship in the USA, Liburd admitted that it was rather different to be lining up with and against international players in the Championship.
But he is fully relishing the learning experience, especially on the training ground at Hogwood, and hopes to continue to push for more opportunities in the future.
“It was a good feeling to be put on but I didn’t really think about it until afterwards – I just got on with the game,” he explained. “The experience against Cardiff was a tough battle, they were a physical team but I wanted to embrace the experience. It’s a bit different to what I’m used to but once I get some game time I’ll be alright.
“Training is really intense and I’m trying to learn off the senior players to improve my game. The dressing room was disappointed with the result against Cardiff, but we’ll pick ourselves up and after the international break we will go again.
“We will push ourselves in training work that much harder so we can be ready to go after the international break, I’ll keep pushing and working hard and hopefully the gaffer notices.”
Debut. Honoured to have made football league debut yesterday. ⚽️ @ Cardiff City Football Stadium https://t.co/H3TwcnmbpN— Rowan Liburd (@R_Liburd21) November 8, 2015
Despite defeat to the Bluebirds, the chance to blood the youngster and see how he coped in the environment was a pleasing element for manager Steve Clarke.
“Rowan has done well since he’s come in,” said the manager. “It was a chance at 2-0 down to mix it up a bit up top and put Rowan on. He got a good introduction to Championship football – it’s a tough game. But he didn’t look out of place, and that’s good for everybody going forward.”