BURTON Albion are hoping to retain the services of full-back starlet Anthony O’Connor for the rest of the season.
The Republic of Ireland under-19 player was due to return to Blackburn Rovers next week after a month on loan at the Pirelli Stadium, but the Brewers have persuaded the Championship club to extend the agreement until January 31 — and believe he could stay on until the end of the season.
Albion boss Gary Rowett said: “I don’t think Blackburn quite want to make a commitment beyond the next transfer window at this stage.
“But I also think there’s every chance Anthony will stay with us and get a full season of league football under his belt.
“Because we’re now entering into a youth loan, we can keep extending it as we and Blackburn see fit.
“They can recall him after the first 28 days of the new loan, but I don’t think that will happen.
“I think it will be more a case of them continuing to monitor his progress with us.”
Rowett has been impressed with the way the youngster has settled with the club after joining the Brewers ready for the start of the League Two campaign.
The Brewers boss said: “It’s not always easy for young players to make the switch from the type of football they’ve been used to compared with the hurly-burly of the Football League.
“I think playing international football has perhaps given him a taste of the pressures involved, but I’m pretty sure he would have handled it anyway.
“Anthony knows what this game is all about. He’s a hard lad for his age.
“He’s done really well for us, even though centre-half is his position and we’ve been using him at right-back.
“I think he’s looked comfortable in most of the games he’s played for us and the big bonus is that he gives us extra height when we’re defending set-pieces.
“He had a little blip at Exeter a couple of weeks ago, but you get that from time to time with any player.
“We took him out of the firing line at Covenry (in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy), but he came back strong at Rochdale on Saturday and played his part in getting us a clean sheet and our first away win in the league.”
Meanwhile, Rowett is awaiting physio James Rowland’s assessment of the injury picked up by midfielder Chris Palmer in the 1-0 win at Rochdale.
Palmer had to be carried back to the dressing room only nine minutes into the game at Spotland after twisting his ankle.
Rowett said: “James is just waiting for the injury to settle down.
“There’s a lot of swelling but some injuries clear up quicker than you expect, as we found with Jack Dyer earlier in the season.
“He was injured in training and we thought he might be out for a while, but he played the next day.
“Obviously, if Chris continues to experience soreness then we might have to send him for a scan.”