Cambridge United loanee Rushian Hepburn-Murphy adjusts to life in Sky Bet League Two
Jabo Ibehre is the perfect role model from which to learn, according to Cambridge United loanee Rushian Hepburn-Murphy.
The 20-year-old striker joined the U’s until the end of the season earlier this month, and made an instant impression in the wins over Notts County and Northampton Town.
Hepburn-Murphy has already appeared in the Premier League and Championship with parent club Aston Villa, having made his debut aged 16, but is looking to add more strings to his bow.
It has meant stepping out of the under-23 development league and into the rigours of Sky Bet League Two.
“The difference with the under-23s is the tempo and the atmosphere is completely different,” said Hepburn-Murphy.
“You are playing for something so everyone is completely at it throughout the whole 90 minutes so it’s a very different experience from playing under-23s.
“As to first team, I’ve played in the Premier League and the Championship so the tempo is different again.
“The tempo in the Championship is much quicker, the quality of players is a lot different as well, but at the end of the day every team is playing for something so everyone has that fight in them.
“We’re all playing for the three points, so it’s a bit of a challenge.
“You get the physicality at all levels. You get different kinds of defenders, you get some brutal defenders, rough defenders.
“It’s quite different to deal with the physicality from playing under-23s to first-team football and you just have to get used to stuff like that.”
And it is difficult to imagine there is a better teacher in coping with League Two defenders than wily campaigner Ibehre, who has made standing up to the roughhouse tactics an art form.
“It’s Jabo’s strength,” said the youngster. “He’s a big lad, Jabo. He’s quite strong so that physicality stuff is made for him really and he can deal with it much better than I can, obviously with the size difference.
“But that’s why it’s good playing upfront with Jabo because he can do the physicality stuff and I can do the other stuff on the ball that’s why we work together as a good strike partnership.
“I do pick up a lot in training because Jabo does the same stuff in training that he does on a matchday and you can pick up body positions and how he holds off defenders so it’s a good learning curve for me as well.”
Hepburn-Murphy made his third start for the U’s at Exeter City last Saturday, but a deflected effort from Nicky Law in the 82nd minute proved decisive as the Grecians won 1-0.
There was a brief appearance at the end of the game for Alex Jones, who has moved to the Abbey Stadium on loan from Bradford City until the end of the season.
United will be looking to get back to winning ways this Saturday when they travel to Cheltenham Town.