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O'Connor ready to step up

Defender Anthony O'Connor feels he is ready to make the step up to Blackburn Rovers' first team this season.

Last Updated: 04/08/14 at 08:38 Post Comment

Gary Bowyer: Receives high praise from Anthony O'Connor

Gary Bowyer: Receives high praise from Anthony O'Connor

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The 21-year-old defender is yet to make an appearance for Rovers' senior side after spending the past two campaigns on loan with Burton and then Torquay.

O'Connor feels those spells in Sky Bet League Two have helped his development and he is now keen to become the next academy product promoted to Gary Bowyer's first team.

"I've come on leaps and bounds," said O'Connor.

"First year I went out to Burton Albion and played a full season as full-back and then went to Torquay and more or less played a full season at centre-back. They're two different positions but I feel I developed really well in both.

"I'm not looking to nail down a starting position; it's just a case of where the gaffer wants me to play, where he sees me best and what game suits more. I don't really mind; we'll see what happens."

Asked if he felt this would be the season he made the step up, the Irishman added: "It could be, yeah.

"We'll look at it again in a couple of weeks. If the gaffer doesn't see me in his plans straight away then I'll probably look at another loan, go out and get more games under my belt.

"But you never know what can happen in football. God forbid there could be injuries and then you're called back and thrown in to the deep end all of a sudden. I've just got to keep my head down and wait for the call, I suppose."

Bowyer's penchant for using young players could well work in O'Connor's favour. Blackburn's current boss helped shape the careers of Manchester United and England defender Phil Jones, as well as Rovers' current captain Grant Hanley while working with the youth teams.

"The gaffer was the academy manager at one stage and then the reserve manager so he knows all the young lads really well," O'Connor noted.

"I know him quite well; I've been with him since I've first come and known him many years. He's got a job to do. He's the manager and picks the team, he's not just going to throw a young lad in just because he's come through the academy. If he feels like a young lad is ready...as they say if you're good enough, you're old enough.

"I've played with Grant through the academy and the reserves and he's come on leaps and bounds. He's the captain now and he's an example for all us younger lads that if you put your head down and put the work in then it will happen for you.

"It's good to be playing alongside players like that because they're constantly talking to you. I feel I'm developing all the time."

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