Friday, February 23, 2024

D.C. United acquires Lewis O’Brien on short-term loan from Nottingham Forest

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D.C. United has finalized the acquisition of midfielder Lewis O’Brien on a short-term loan from Premier League club Nottingham Forest, D.C. Coach Wayne Rooney said Thursday.

O’Brien arrived in Washington this week for a physical and final paperwork. He must now await a work visa, a process that typically takes a few weeks.

“I think he will be a huge help,” Rooney said. “He’s a very energetic player, good on the ball. … We’re lucky that we’ve been able to bring him in because he’s a very good player.”

O’Brien, 24, might not be around for very long, though. The loan is due to expire in mid-July, at which point United will need to extend it, acquire him via a permanent transfer — his market value is $9.6 million, according to transfermarkt — or let him return to England for the start of training camp.

“Even though it’s a short loan, I think it’s a player who can really help us in that period of time he’s with us,” Rooney said. “Beyond that, you never know. … We’ll see where we go.”

O’Brien, who is expected to compete for a starting slot, is the third player to arrive from the Premier League since last summer, joining striker Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace) and midfielder Mateusz Klich (Leeds). His availability is likely to coincide with the return of Taxi Fountas, United’s best player last year, who has yet to play this season because of a hamstring injury.

O’Brien is young and well-regarded in England, but an odd series of events this winter left him ineligible the rest of the Premier League season. Nottingham Forest was preparing to loan him to second-flight Blackburn Rovers when administrative issues foiled the move at the last minute.

In anticipation of the loan, Forest didn’t register him on its 25-man roster, leaving the club scrambling to find him a place to play the next several months.

O’Brien appeared in 13 of Forest’s 19 Premier League matches, starting six and scoring once. He also played in four cup matches, starting twice.

Andy Najar sidelined 2 to 3 weeks

Right back Andy Najar will miss two to three weeks with hamstring and calf injuries, Rooney said. He was hurt in training late last week and did not play in the 1-1 draw with Orlando City last Saturday at Audi Field.

Brazil’s Ruan replaced Najar last week and seems likely to retain the starting job this Saturday against New York City FC at Yankee Stadium.

Najar, who turned 30 on Thursday, has a long history of leg injuries, which is a prime reason the club acquired Ruan from Orlando this past offseason.

“We’ve obviously been aware of that with Andy and, throughout the preseason, we monitored him,” Rooney said. “There might be certain days where he will do something a little bit different or maybe stay in. His hamstring is not too bad. The week before he got a kick in the calf, so it’s a mixture of the two.” …

With lingering contract terms resolved, United finally introduced former Vancouver Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson as an assistant. He has been with the team since preseason and was on the sideline for the first three MLS matches.

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