Wanderers midfielder Joey O'Brien is still pinching himself as he comes to terms with the dramatic turnaround in his career.

This time a year ago, O'Brien was looking to establish himself in the reserves.

The heady world of the Barclays Premiership and European and international football was at that stage still nothing but a dream.

Then the 19-year-old Dubliner made what he now considers a crucial loan move to Sheffield Wednesday in December, spending just under three months with an Owls side that went on to earn promotion.

O'Brien made his Premiership debut for Wanderers in the final game of last term, featuring for the closing minutes of a 3-2 win over Everton, after replacing El-Hadji Diouf.

That served as a prelude to what has been a stunning start to this season as O'Brien established himself as a regular squad member, to such a degree he made his first start in Bolton's UEFA Cup tie at Lokomotiv Plovdiv.

O'Brien also has seven Republic of Ireland Under-21 caps to his credit, all in the space of the last eight months.

"A year ago I was just playing reserve-team football in front of 25 people," he said.

"I can't believe what has happened to me. You always hope to get your chance, getting in and playing in the Premiership.

"I thought I would get it with a bit of hard work, although deep down you think it just might not come.

"Obviously, the gaffer knew of me from reserve matches, but going on loan to Sheffield Wednesday was great for me.

"When that chance did finally come, I was absolutely delighted."