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Minnesota diary: Callum O'Hare

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Minnesota diary: Callum O'Hare

Callum O'Hare is back with Aston Villa following a successful loan spell with Carlisle United in League Two over the second half of last season.

Our Academy star featured 16 times for the Cumbrian club, scoring three goals and assisting three as they fought late into the campaign for a Play-Off spot.

Here, the 21-year-old reflects on what he took away from his loan and the biggest chapter in his continued development from our pre-season training camp here in Minnesota...


It's good to be back and it's fair to say I'm buzzing to have been picked to be on pre-season.

Last year, I sustained a pretty bad injury to my knee while out in Hong Kong, so missed the Portugal trip later that summer. So it's great to be ready from the get-go this time around.

We've just finished a long weekend of tough sessions, something you expect in any pre-season camp.

It's particularly humid here in Minnesota, so it's hard to get your breath and you're tested to the limit. The humidity reminds me of those trips to the Hong Kong Sevens, except the tempo here with the first team is much, much higher. You're blowing a lot more by the end of sessions.

Pre-season aside, things are all good. I've learned more than ever in 2019 thanks to the loan spell with Carlisle. It proved to be a really valuable experience.

It was great to get out and get a proper run of games at senior level, and move up from the U23s.

It meant so much more, in terms of what was at stake every week. Everyone at the club cares so much when you're playing at that level.

I feel like I've improved as a player massively. It was great to get a lot of game time and chip in with goals and assists.


I learned a lot specifically on the mental side of the professional game. I do feel I've improved technically on the ball as well, but mentally I'm much better for it when playing and training now.

In the end, I was able to play through niggles and finish games where I might not have done before. That was down to mindset.

Then the winning mentality improves, too. I always want to win, obviously. But there's so much riding on each game and it means a lot to people at the club. It's so quiet in the dressing room when you don't win matches at that level.

It means more, especially when you're pushing for Play-Offs and promotion as we were. You're playing for the future success of the club.

I also learned a lot of life lessons up in Carlisle.

I was living on my own for the first time and had to get used to my own company a lot. It was very different to living at home. You have to take care of things I'd never usually think about.

I'd not even cooked much food for myself or anything like that before I went, and had to look after myself in ways I hadn't previously.

All in all, going on loan was a fantastic experience. I genuinely am better for it.


While all that was going on, it was equally enjoyable to watch on from afar as the lads got us back to the Premier League.

I had a ticket and was at Wembley to enjoy the final. It wasn't quite like being there in and amongst it with the squad, but it was still a great day.

I know having been here since a kid just how much it meant to everyone at the club. It's now back where it belongs.

It's an exciting time here. I've really enjoyed the first three days of the tour and always feel I learn a lot under Dean Smith technically. Both with the ball and without. He's helped me develop a lot since he's arrived.

It's also great to share the pitch with some of our new signings, who have already impressed and will help us massively this season.

For me, it's now my aim to keep doing my best and see where it can get me.


Dan Connor
By @danconnor 15th July 2019