Brian Tinnion makes pre-season prediction for Bristol City new boys Adam Murphy and Josh Stokes

Bristol City technical director Brian Tinnion expects Adam Murphy to force himself into the first-team picture over the summer, as the Robins have taken their time and applied a certain additional level of care with the young midfielder following his transfer from Ireland.

Murphy signed from St Patrick’s Athletic in January but wasn’t seen in a red and white shirt until two appearances for the Under-21s in May, after the 2023/24 Championship campaign had finished.

The 18-year-old had been put on a specific training programme akin to a pre-season when he arrived in the West Country, while in speaking to the Bristol City Forever podcast, Tinnion noted the Republic of Ireland U21 international had a few lingering injury issues which needed clearing up.

Murphy was then gradually moved up the age groups and trained with the first-team towards the end of the season before being road-tested with the Young Robins against Charlton Athletic and Fleetwood Town.

His first appearance proved an eye-catching cameo at the end of a 4-2 win, and he followed that with a stunning long-range effort that soared into the net in front of the Atyeo Stand, to serve notice of his talent as he prepares to join the senior group for pre-season later this month.

City have lost two senior central midfielders this summer with Matty James and Andy King’s contracts expiring and the club electing not to offer them fresh deals but, while that experience is hard to replace, they are gaining Max Bird from Derby County and potentially Murphy in a senior capacity to add to the talent in the position.

Bird and Murphy will join Joe Williams, following his new three-year contract, Jason Knight and Taylor Gardner-Hickman in competing for a place at the base of the Robins midfield.

“We were really careful with Murphy when he came over from Ireland. He had a few tendon issues in his knee so he spent a lot of time in the gym and with the sports science (department),” Tinnion told FBC. “We really set him up for this pre-season.

"He started with the 18s, doing some light training and the staff were all, ‘wow, what a player’, then he did some training with the 21s, and Ali (Hines, senior performance pathway manager) and that were really impressed and then he played in a couple of games which was really good.

"He trained with the first team for the last week to 10 days (of the season), so I’m fully expecting Murphy to come in and really impress in that first-team squad and really push the midfield players that we’ve got. He’s exciting, he’s dynamic, he can go box-to-box, he can play, he can score, so we’re really excited about him.”

Murphy and Bird will be joined by fellow January arrival Josh Stokes who having been loaned back to Aldershot for the remainder of the 2023/24 National League season is preparing to start life as a fully-fledged City player.

The forward has trained with his new teammates, during weeks when the Shots didn’t have a midweek fixture, and according to Tinnion left a definite impression on certain individuals with his impact at the High Performance Centre.

“Rob Dickie doesn’t say too much but I was in the restaurant one day and Rob said, ‘Brian, I’m really looking forward to seeing Stokes next season, he’s been really impressive in training’ which is really nice from a good senior pro like Rob Dickie to say that,” Tinnion added.

Stokes appears to fit the City brief of being tactically flexible and able to cover a number of positions as he can play as a second striker, in the No10 spot or either side of a central forward, while Tinnion has suggested the 20-year-old could progress to becoming a fully-fledged No9.

There are obvious stylistic differences, and no two players are the same, but if Murphy and Bird can be viewed as replacements for James and King, then Stokes potentially fills the void left by Andi Weimann, who played a host of roles in the final third.

Like Murphy, the former Ipswich academy talent is ready to test himself at this level and unlike some of the players progressing through the academy system, isn’t being considered for a loan as that part of his development in a men’s football environment has already been served at Aldershot and AFC Sudbury before that.

“Josh had a really good season at Aldershot, 16 goals, eight assists,” Tinnion said. “They’ve done the men’s football now, so I don’t think (they’ll go out on loan), unless something changes - we’ve got a really fully fit squad and they’re a little bit down and maybe not going to get the games - I can see both staying in and being around that first-team squad, waiting for an opportunity.

"Stokes is more attacking, he could even be a 9. Everybody - staff, players - have been really impressed with both; how they’ve fitted in, how they work, what their attitudes are like.”

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