INJURIES have disrupted Tom King’s ascension into the Bristol City first-team but the young Aussie defender is targeting a return to full fitness in December.
The former Joey and Young Socceroo, who was once on the books at Liverpool, joined League One club Bristol City last year.
Leftback King, 19, had appeared regularly for the club’s first-team in pre-season this year and was on track to make his debut but a series of niggling injuries in the past few months have slowed him down.
“I went to Spain on the pre-season tour with the first-team and as soon as the season started I tore my groin, so I was out for eight weeks,” he said.
King was then fit for two weeks and played a handful of Under-21 games for Bristol City before injuring the other side of his groin. “The left one went then the right one went,” he said.
“But I think they almost put it down to coincidence. It hasn’t been a smooth ship with injuries to be honest.”
It has been a frustrating period for King on the injury front in the last few years after leaving Liverpool.
The left back was scouted by Manchester United at the age of 10 and trialed with them, Manchester City and the Reds before heading to Anfield at 15.
After appearing at the 2011 Under-20 World Cup he was later released by Liverpool, had a short injury-affected spell at Stoke City with a stress fracture before signing with the Robins.
The boyhood Liverpool fan admits his exit from the Reds was tough.
“It was difficult,” he said. “[But] with anything like that when you’re not playing regularly, then you can see it coming.”
However, the Norway-born teenager remains focused and committed to cracking Bristol City’s starting line-up. King recently bought an apartment in Bristol and says the club is one that gives youngsters a chance.
“I’m absolutely loving Bristol,” he said. “It’s such a nice place to live. I’m really enjoying it. He’s [Bristol City manager Sean O’ Driscoll] not scared to play young players at all.
"There’s a couple of other players who have had a chance and a couple of young ones who play regularly.
"it’s just about getting back fit and then proving you’re better than what he’s got at the moment.”
King missed out on selection for this year’s Under-20 World Cup in Turkey but has fond memories of the Under-17 tournament held in Mexico three years ago.
“The World Cup was incredible,” he said. “It was such a great experience. I got a real confidence boost from it.”
Able to play both in the heart of defence and on the left, King is a product of Western Australia’s famed National Training Centre. His contract at Ashton Gate finishes in June but King, who is in his fourth year in English football, says his goal is to earn a new deal at the club.
“The manager changed quite late last year, so he hadn’t had a chance to look at everyone but he saw me for a few months and decided he’d give me a year,” he said.
“I’m hoping I’ve done enough to earn a longer contract.”
King’s first game back could come against fellow Aussie and former Perth juniors teammate Dylan Tombides.
“The Under-21s next game is on December 2 against Cardiff,” he said. “It will be that one or the following week. We’ve drawn West Ham in the Under-21 FA Youth Cup.
"I’m trying to get fit for that because Dylan Tombides will probably play."