The young forward made his bow in green and white as a second-half substitute in the 3-1 defeat by Aberdeen before the international break, and the Easter Road boss is keen to see many of O’Connor’s colleagues in the youth team follow the same route.
"I was really glad Josh O'Connor got on the pitch against Aberdeen, and he had that opportunity with the shot. He's been outstanding for the under-18s,” Maloney told the Evening News.
“Hopefully what that shows the whole Academy is that, if you are outstanding for the youth team, then I will give you an opportunity in the first team.
“It also hopefully that gives everyone in the Academy proof that there is a pathway to the first team for everyone here.”
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O’Connor’s strike partner Connor Young bagged a first-half hat-trick against Dundee United in midweek and Maloney was delighted to see another outstanding showing from a youth player.
“Connor did fantastically well against Dundee United in midweek for the 18s. They train with us at least two or three times a week and that's part of the model of the club,” he explained.
“I love the fact that we are trying to bring these players through. They now know that if they are outstanding for the youth team, then they will get that opportunity in the first team.
“In my opinion, that's the way it should be.”