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In focus: Stuart O’Keefe

31 January 2017


In focus: Stuart O’Keefe

31 January 2017 takes a look at the career so far of MK Dons’ new midfielder, Stuart O’Keefe...

He’s added a further 10 Cardiff appearances to his name this season but will be looking to become a more regular starter for the Dons following his switch to Stadium MK.

O’Keefe made six outings for the Bluebirds in the second-half of the 2014/15 season but became much more of a regular feature the following campaign, playing 27 times and scoring two goals including a second-half winner in a 2-1 triumph over Derby County.

He featured once more for Palace before joining Sky Bet Championship outfit Cardiff City for an undisclosed fee late on in the January window.

O’Keefe took his appearance total for Palace past 50 early on in the 2014/15 campaign but an ankle injury saw him lose his place in Neil Warnock’s side. In a bid to regain match fitness, he joined Blackpool on loan in November, playing four times before returning to Selhurst Park.

He made an excellent start to life in the top flight, scoring a superb goal in Palace’s opening-day success over Sunderland. A further 11 Premier League appearances followed, including one off the bench in a 1-0 triumph at home to Chelsea.

After the season, O’Keefe was awarded a three-year extension at Selhurst Park and in the first of those he helped the Eagles earn promotion to the Premier League – the midfielder played the majority of the Play-Off final in which they came out on top 1-0 in extra-time.

O’Keefe played in the first five of Palace’s EFL Cup ties at the start of the 2011/12 campaign, including a 2-1 victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford. That saw him handed a chance in the league and in the remaining six months of the season he made 14 appearances – 13 of which were starts.

He was limited to just four Sky Bet Championship appearances for the Eagles in the 2010/11 season, featuring mostly on the bench. O’Keefe’s chance to impress, however, came in the next 12 months.

The following season, O’Keefe made nine appearances for Southend including an EFL Trophy appearance against MK Dons at Stadium MK. The 2009/10 campaign proved to be his final campaign at Roots Hall as he signed a one-year deal with Crystal Palace in August 2010.

His performances for the first-team and the youth sides saw him earn a nomination for the EFL Apprentice of the Year award - he was edged out to the gong by Carlisle United defender Tom Aldred.

Then came his senior debut in an FA Cup victory over Telford, where he replaced Alan McCormack with two minutes to play. His first league appearance soon followed – against Leyton Orient in early January – and then came his first league start –against Leeds United later that month.

His performances in training and in reserve fixtures saw him rewarded with his first professional contract in November of that campaign – the-then 17-year-old penned a three-year deal with the seaside club.

O’Keefe, who helped the Shrimpers youth side to the quarter-finals of the FA Youth Cup in his first season at the club, was handed a first-team squad number at the start of the 2008/09 campaign and featured a number of times on the bench in the opening months.

The midfielder left Portman Road at the end of the 2006/07 and after various trials at clubs such as Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest, he signed scholarship terms with Southend United in November 2007.

During his time in the Tractor Boys’ Academy system, he played alongside current Don Ed Upson, as well as the likes of Jordan Rhodes and Jack Wilshire.

O’Keefe grew up in Suffolk and despite training with Norwich City Under-9s, he began his career with Ipswich Town.

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