YORK City are hoping Blackburn Rovers will today sanction an extension to England under-19 international Jack O’Connell’s loan stay at Bootham Crescent.
O'Connell, 18, played the last match of his agreed one-month spell with the Minstermen during Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Oxford United.
He impressed again at the heart of City’s defence and manager Gary Mills is hoping he will be able to call on his services for the League Two clash at Rotherham tomorrow, when injured pair David McGurk (hamstring) and Chris Doig (ankle) will still be unavailable.
On his hope an agreement can be made with Championship club Rovers, Mills said: “It was Jack’s last game for us on Saturday but I’m trying to keep him here until the end of the season because he’s been our most consistent player during the last few games. He was excellent again (at Oxford) and has defended ever so well for an 18-year-old.
“He knows when to keep the ball and when to clear it and has a lot of desire. He wants to be here so I’m hoping that can be sorted because we are still short in that area.”
Should O’Connell be available, Mills is also looking forward to fielding the same back four that engineered a shut-out at the Kassam Stadium tomorrow.
The quartet, which saw Lanre Oyebanjo and Daniel Parslow filling the right and left-back positions respectively, while O’Connell partnered captain Chris Smith in the middle, were not breached the only other time they lined up together.
On that occasion, Oyebanjo had to be substituted with a fractured skull before high-flying hosts Gillingham grabbed a late equaliser in a 1-1 draw last month.
Mills added: “That back four were outstanding at Gillingham. Unfortunately, Lanre got that head injury and I wasn’t able to play them together again.
“But I was delighted to put that defence out at Oxford and they showed me what I thought – they are a very solid unit who worked hard and defended very well to get us a clean sheet.”
On Oyebanjo’s return to the team a month on from his head injury in Kent, Mills said: “He came in and looked strong. He had a couple of his surges forward and he defended well when their striker tried to get half a yard on him.”
Curtis Obeng and Jamal Fyfield, meanwhile, were both dropped from City’s 18-strong squad for Saturday’s game, their absences not due to injury: Said Mills: “They are fine.
“I just made the decision to leave them out and that’s what I am here to do.”
Jason Walker was also preferred to Michael Rankine in attack with the City chief saying: “Jason did well for the reserves last week and has trained really well so that’s why I put him back in the team and he did well up there for us.”
A pleased Mills also praised his team’s fight at Oxford while acknowledging the team still need to add a cutting edge to their game.
He said: “I thought we were excellent and the desire to get a result was fantastic. It was a battle, especially in the middle of the park, but I was delighted with a clean sheet and it’s another point on the table after the disappointing result against Barnet.
“We know we need to do a bit more in the box and the last third to get a goal but we won’t get desperate and go into areas that will cause us problems. We’ve just got to take those chances when they come along and that will happen.”