BURTON Albion have secured the services of young defender Anthony O’Connor as they gear up for a League Two promotion push.
The 20-year-old right-back will remain at the Pirelli Stadium for the rest of the season after Blackburn Rovers agreed to extend his loan.
The Irishman has been one of the mainstays of Albion’s defence this season and has been a virtual ever-present since making his debut away to Rotherham United in the opening league game of the campaign.
O’Connor has missed only three games since joining the Brewers and is highly rated by Gary Rowett.
The Brewers boss said: “Anthony has come in and made a big impact and we are delighted to have him with us now until the end of the season.
“I think the main thing for Anthony has been to make sure he is playing regular football and you can see how much he has developed so far this season.”
O’Connor’s initial signing was not completed in time for Albion’s first game of the season away to Sheffield United in the Capital One Cup.
He also missed the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy tie at Coventry City when he was rested and was ruled out of the FA Cup defeat at Leicester City at the start of this year because of a hamstring injury.
But his dependability has been underlined by the fact that he is the only player at the club to have appeared in all 27 League Two games this term.
Rowett said recently: “Anthony’s defensive qualities are there to be seen, but what I just love about him is his attitude he’s as tough as old boots and very rarely lets anyone get the better of him.
“He’s dealt with the bumps and bruises of League Two football extremely well and he’s settled into being the type of footballer who has a really good career ahead of him.”
Meanwhile, Rowett is awaiting fitness reports on midfielder Lee Bell and top goalscorer Calvin Zola.
Bell - described by the Brewers boss as “a warrior” - came off near the end of Saturday’s 2-1 defeat of Torquay United after being on the receiving end of a heavy tackle.
Zola also failed to finish the game - but only after scoring Albion’s opening goal in a victory that powered the Brewers back into the play-off places.
The big targetman suffered a recurrence of a groin strain that had prevented him from training since the cup tie at Leicester.