WHEN Ian Holloway describes a player as the “bargain of the century” he must be impressed.
After all, this is the manager who succeeded in signing Tom Ince and Kevin Phillips for free.
But that’s how highly he rates his latest midfield enforcer, Isaiah Osbourne.
The 24-year-old was plucked from Scottish Premier League side Hibernian after years of failing to break into the Aston Villa side.
And after his first two games, including a man-of-the-match display against Millwall, Holloway hasn’t changed his mind.
He said: “I’ve had my eyes on him for years and I hope he can turn into what I think he can.
“He’s a bit like Incey (Tom Ince) – he’s been at a big club and he got a little bit lost in the wilderness.
“He didn’t like it in Scotland and wanted to come back, and to be fair it’s the bargain of the century.”
Holloway has a history of picking up players who are down on confidence and have lost their way in the game.
And Osbourne comes into that category
The manager added: “If he can believe in himself and do what he does, he’s a fantastic player.
“I’m delighted to have him and he’s given us a balance, a blend, and he can play football.
“I’ve got such a selection problem in the middle of the park now. The awkward bit for me is fitting all these lads in. Scott Robertson is a very similar player to Isaiah and he hasn’t had a chance yet.
“He’s got to work on his fitness and he’ll get his chance.
“I’ve got Noguero, who people haven’t even seen yet. I’m spoilt for choice.”
Osborne was thought to be the next big thing in 2006, when he made his Premier League debut with Aston Villa. Since then he’s spent three largely unsuccessful loan spells in the Championship before moving north of the border last summer.
But with backing from his new boss, and the perfect start to life at Bloomfield Road, maybe this could be the season Osbourne finally fulfils his huge potential.
“I couldn’t ask for a better start really. I’m buzzing and happy,” said Osbourne.
“I pick up the pieces in midfield. I like to think that I know the game, and can cover holes and pick up little through balls. When I get on the ball, I run with it.”
Although keen on attacking, Osbourne has found himself playing in the holding role in Blackpool’s midfield.
And while he admits he wouldn’t mind doing a bit more attacking, he’s more than happy to perform wherever he’s picked.
“I’m happy to play wherever the manager wants me to play. If he tells me to go in front of the back four and do a job I’ll do a job.
“I guess it’s tough for places in the team, so I’m delighted to get selected.”