Young defender Jack O’Connell eyes bigger Blackburn Rovers role

This Is Lancashire: Jack O’Connell at Rochdale Jack O’Connell at Rochdale

PROMISING centre back Jack O’Connell is determined to follow in the footsteps of Grant Hanley and break into the Blackburn Rovers first team.

Skipper Hanley, 22, rose through the ranks at Ewood Park before establishing himself in the heart of the Rovers defence.

Now fellow academy graduate O’Connell, who was on target in Saturday’s pre-season opener at AFC Telford United, has made it his mission to follow suit.

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The 20-year-old is yet to make his first senior appearance for Rovers.

But after a highly successful season on loan at Rochdale, where he played an integral role in helping Keith Hill’s side win promotion, he was handed a new two-year deal by Gary Bowyer.

And now O’Connell is intent on showing the Rovers boss he is ready to push senior trio Hanley, Matt Kilgallon and Alex Baptiste for a place in his starting line-up.

“Grant is a great player and someone I can look up to,” said O’Connell, whose smartly taken header rounded off the scoring in the 4-0 win at non-league Telford.

“I can see what he has achieved and I want to achieve that as well.

“I’m made-up to get a two-year contract and hopefully I can crack on now and play for Blackburn’s first team.

“That’s always been my aim and I wouldn’t have committed to the club if I didn’t think I had a chance.

“I want to play and not just make up the numbers.”

O’Connell, who is part of the 27-man Rovers squad currently undergoing warm-weather training in Portugal, certainly did not make up the numbers last season.

The England U19s international played 45 times as Rochdale, managed by former Rovers defender Hill, finished third in League Two.

And having had a taste of ‘men’s football’ the Liverpudlian does not want to go back to playing for the U21s.

“It’s just totally different,” said O’Connell. “When I play reserve football I don’t get nervous but in men’s football, when you can hear the fans screaming, it just means that extra bit more.

“Getting into the first team and playing every week on a Saturday, the buzz is unreal.

“Getting success with Rochdale just gave me that extra buzz to want to do well and with Blackburn hopefully pushing for promotion to the Premier League, hopefully I can be involved in that.”

Hill, who was part of the Rovers squad which won promotion to the Premier League in 1992, made O’Connell his captain at Spotland and believes he has the potential to become a regular for his old club.

And O’Connell said: “Keith’s been a big part of my career, especially when he gave me the armband.

“He showed faith in me and hopefully I repaid him with my performances.”

Comments (16)

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9:32am Tue 15 Jul 14

French Rover says...

Another excellent young player with great potential comes out of the Rovers youth academy, which is still one of the best youth footballing centers in the country. Rovers superb set-up at Brockhall has been used as a `model/blueprint` for many of the top Premiership clubs.

Surely after the sound experience gained successfully playing and captaining Rochdale last season, then this young man is all set to become an important member of our first team squad this season. Well done Jack and Rovers!
Another excellent young player with great potential comes out of the Rovers youth academy, which is still one of the best youth footballing centers in the country. Rovers superb set-up at Brockhall has been used as a `model/blueprint` for many of the top Premiership clubs. Surely after the sound experience gained successfully playing and captaining Rochdale last season, then this young man is all set to become an important member of our first team squad this season. Well done Jack and Rovers! French Rover
  • Score: 34

9:57am Tue 15 Jul 14

greenscreener says...

French Rover wrote:
Another excellent young player with great potential comes out of the Rovers youth academy, which is still one of the best youth footballing centers in the country. Rovers superb set-up at Brockhall has been used as a `model/blueprint` for many of the top Premiership clubs.

Surely after the sound experience gained successfully playing and captaining Rochdale last season, then this young man is all set to become an important member of our first team squad this season. Well done Jack and Rovers!
Agreed Frenchy, if the academy could produce one first team player a season it would be a great success. The importance of our own footballer factory will become more evident as more financial controls start to take effect and having this facility established at Brockhall is a great asset if used wisely.
[quote][p][bold]French Rover[/bold] wrote: Another excellent young player with great potential comes out of the Rovers youth academy, which is still one of the best youth footballing centers in the country. Rovers superb set-up at Brockhall has been used as a `model/blueprint` for many of the top Premiership clubs. Surely after the sound experience gained successfully playing and captaining Rochdale last season, then this young man is all set to become an important member of our first team squad this season. Well done Jack and Rovers![/p][/quote]Agreed Frenchy, if the academy could produce one first team player a season it would be a great success. The importance of our own footballer factory will become more evident as more financial controls start to take effect and having this facility established at Brockhall is a great asset if used wisely. greenscreener
  • Score: 16

11:02am Tue 15 Jul 14

Welsh Rover says...

This lad has the potential to become a Rovers legend, hope he's not loaned out again.
This lad has the potential to become a Rovers legend, hope he's not loaned out again. Welsh Rover
  • Score: 12

11:03am Tue 15 Jul 14

Rovers.1875 says...

greenscreener wrote:
French Rover wrote:
Another excellent young player with great potential comes out of the Rovers youth academy, which is still one of the best youth footballing centers in the country. Rovers superb set-up at Brockhall has been used as a `model/blueprint` for many of the top Premiership clubs.

Surely after the sound experience gained successfully playing and captaining Rochdale last season, then this young man is all set to become an important member of our first team squad this season. Well done Jack and Rovers!
Agreed Frenchy, if the academy could produce one first team player a season it would be a great success. The importance of our own footballer factory will become more evident as more financial controls start to take effect and having this facility established at Brockhall is a great asset if used wisely.
Well, it's more like one every 3 seasons, but that is still an amazing output!
[quote][p][bold]greenscreener[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]French Rover[/bold] wrote: Another excellent young player with great potential comes out of the Rovers youth academy, which is still one of the best youth footballing centers in the country. Rovers superb set-up at Brockhall has been used as a `model/blueprint` for many of the top Premiership clubs. Surely after the sound experience gained successfully playing and captaining Rochdale last season, then this young man is all set to become an important member of our first team squad this season. Well done Jack and Rovers![/p][/quote]Agreed Frenchy, if the academy could produce one first team player a season it would be a great success. The importance of our own footballer factory will become more evident as more financial controls start to take effect and having this facility established at Brockhall is a great asset if used wisely.[/p][/quote]Well, it's more like one every 3 seasons, but that is still an amazing output! Rovers.1875
  • Score: 1

11:04am Tue 15 Jul 14

owd nick says...

greenscreener wrote:
French Rover wrote:
Another excellent young player with great potential comes out of the Rovers youth academy, which is still one of the best youth footballing centers in the country. Rovers superb set-up at Brockhall has been used as a `model/blueprint` for many of the top Premiership clubs.

Surely after the sound experience gained successfully playing and captaining Rochdale last season, then this young man is all set to become an important member of our first team squad this season. Well done Jack and Rovers!
Agreed Frenchy, if the academy could produce one first team player a season it would be a great success. The importance of our own footballer factory will become more evident as more financial controls start to take effect and having this facility established at Brockhall is a great asset if used wisely.
Wow, three Rovers fans posting first, must be a record.

By all accounts he is well thought of as both a player and leader, 20 years old, on loan and made captain, that speaks volumes.
[quote][p][bold]greenscreener[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]French Rover[/bold] wrote: Another excellent young player with great potential comes out of the Rovers youth academy, which is still one of the best youth footballing centers in the country. Rovers superb set-up at Brockhall has been used as a `model/blueprint` for many of the top Premiership clubs. Surely after the sound experience gained successfully playing and captaining Rochdale last season, then this young man is all set to become an important member of our first team squad this season. Well done Jack and Rovers![/p][/quote]Agreed Frenchy, if the academy could produce one first team player a season it would be a great success. The importance of our own footballer factory will become more evident as more financial controls start to take effect and having this facility established at Brockhall is a great asset if used wisely.[/p][/quote]Wow, three Rovers fans posting first, must be a record. By all accounts he is well thought of as both a player and leader, 20 years old, on loan and made captain, that speaks volumes. owd nick
  • Score: 20

12:18pm Tue 15 Jul 14

A Rover 45 years and over says...

Let's hope the lad is given a proper opportunity and not sat on the side lines all season. should be on the bench at least and given some game time when the opportunity arises.
Let's hope the lad is given a proper opportunity and not sat on the side lines all season. should be on the bench at least and given some game time when the opportunity arises. A Rover 45 years and over
  • Score: 5

12:48pm Tue 15 Jul 14

dean :-) says...

owd nick wrote:
greenscreener wrote:
French Rover wrote:
Another excellent young player with great potential comes out of the Rovers youth academy, which is still one of the best youth footballing centers in the country. Rovers superb set-up at Brockhall has been used as a `model/blueprint` for many of the top Premiership clubs.

Surely after the sound experience gained successfully playing and captaining Rochdale last season, then this young man is all set to become an important member of our first team squad this season. Well done Jack and Rovers!
Agreed Frenchy, if the academy could produce one first team player a season it would be a great success. The importance of our own footballer factory will become more evident as more financial controls start to take effect and having this facility established at Brockhall is a great asset if used wisely.
Wow, three Rovers fans posting first, must be a record.

By all accounts he is well thought of as both a player and leader, 20 years old, on loan and made captain, that speaks volumes.
Have to agree to be made captain of a club you are on loan at and only 20 shows this kid most have some serious talent
[quote][p][bold]owd nick[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]greenscreener[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]French Rover[/bold] wrote: Another excellent young player with great potential comes out of the Rovers youth academy, which is still one of the best youth footballing centers in the country. Rovers superb set-up at Brockhall has been used as a `model/blueprint` for many of the top Premiership clubs. Surely after the sound experience gained successfully playing and captaining Rochdale last season, then this young man is all set to become an important member of our first team squad this season. Well done Jack and Rovers![/p][/quote]Agreed Frenchy, if the academy could produce one first team player a season it would be a great success. The importance of our own footballer factory will become more evident as more financial controls start to take effect and having this facility established at Brockhall is a great asset if used wisely.[/p][/quote]Wow, three Rovers fans posting first, must be a record. By all accounts he is well thought of as both a player and leader, 20 years old, on loan and made captain, that speaks volumes.[/p][/quote]Have to agree to be made captain of a club you are on loan at and only 20 shows this kid most have some serious talent dean :-)
  • Score: 9

1:33pm Tue 15 Jul 14

PlutoRover says...

Would like to see him get a start against Scunthorpe in the cup
Would like to see him get a start against Scunthorpe in the cup PlutoRover
  • Score: 2

1:47pm Tue 15 Jul 14

Ronaldpetercooper says...

I do hope this lad is rewarded with at least a place on the bench and a chance to play in the cup games. He has shown immense promise for some time and now should be his time. He is not alone as there are a couple more with promise and like Frenchie and Owd Nic I do think the future is not all bad and can't wait for the new season to start. The defence worries me still but am sure GB will sort it.
I do hope this lad is rewarded with at least a place on the bench and a chance to play in the cup games. He has shown immense promise for some time and now should be his time. He is not alone as there are a couple more with promise and like Frenchie and Owd Nic I do think the future is not all bad and can't wait for the new season to start. The defence worries me still but am sure GB will sort it. Ronaldpetercooper
  • Score: 2

3:01pm Tue 15 Jul 14

MatthewCA says...

There is a smell of a great player, hope he control his journey to be an intagral part of rovers center back series.

All the best, Great goal scoreing effort on last match, is an added advantage for his sucess to stay in the first team.
There is a smell of a great player, hope he control his journey to be an intagral part of rovers center back series. All the best, Great goal scoreing effort on last match, is an added advantage for his sucess to stay in the first team. MatthewCA
  • Score: -1

3:52pm Tue 15 Jul 14

noddy57 says...

If O, connel can keep his feet on the ground l feel the potential to be the next Phil Jones is not out of the question. but he has a long way to go.
If O, connel can keep his feet on the ground l feel the potential to be the next Phil Jones is not out of the question. but he has a long way to go. noddy57
  • Score: -1

4:00pm Tue 15 Jul 14

BlueSkies says...

Got to test him at this level. Seen him play a few times for Dale, always decent. Dale fans desperate for him to stay and Keith Hill obviously
rated him highly.
Got to test him at this level. Seen him play a few times for Dale, always decent. Dale fans desperate for him to stay and Keith Hill obviously rated him highly. BlueSkies
  • Score: 1

7:16pm Tue 15 Jul 14

The Seagull has landed says...

PlutoRover wrote:
Would like to see him get a start against Scunthorpe in the cup
He won't be starting in round 2 though.
[quote][p][bold]PlutoRover[/bold] wrote: Would like to see him get a start against Scunthorpe in the cup[/p][/quote]He won't be starting in round 2 though. The Seagull has landed
  • Score: -5

11:41pm Tue 15 Jul 14

owd nick says...

Ronaldpetercooper wrote:
I do hope this lad is rewarded with at least a place on the bench and a chance to play in the cup games. He has shown immense promise for some time and now should be his time. He is not alone as there are a couple more with promise and like Frenchie and Owd Nic I do think the future is not all bad and can't wait for the new season to start. The defence worries me still but am sure GB will sort it.
Just remember what GB's job was before he took over as manager, for how long/ 10 years or so?

He knows these kids, knows where they are in their development, knows if they are ready or not, or worth the risk.

If they aren't better to loan them out again to clubs that will give them valuable match experience than have them playing meaningless games in front of an handful of people.
[quote][p][bold]Ronaldpetercooper[/bold] wrote: I do hope this lad is rewarded with at least a place on the bench and a chance to play in the cup games. He has shown immense promise for some time and now should be his time. He is not alone as there are a couple more with promise and like Frenchie and Owd Nic I do think the future is not all bad and can't wait for the new season to start. The defence worries me still but am sure GB will sort it.[/p][/quote]Just remember what GB's job was before he took over as manager, for how long/ 10 years or so? He knows these kids, knows where they are in their development, knows if they are ready or not, or worth the risk. If they aren't better to loan them out again to clubs that will give them valuable match experience than have them playing meaningless games in front of an handful of people. owd nick
  • Score: 0

2:34am Wed 16 Jul 14

macca1982 says...

Still think an experienced centre back is the key to this season, baptiste will play at right back 99% of the time and Kilgallon will stuggle to play 25 games through injury. Hanley isn't ready to boss the back line yet, but if GB can get a good leader at centre half the playoffs are a cert.
Still think an experienced centre back is the key to this season, baptiste will play at right back 99% of the time and Kilgallon will stuggle to play 25 games through injury. Hanley isn't ready to boss the back line yet, but if GB can get a good leader at centre half the playoffs are a cert. macca1982
  • Score: 0

2:12pm Wed 16 Jul 14

AnotherPounding4BurnIey says...

If he wants a bigger role they should give him a dustpan and brush and ask him to clear the ground after the final whistle. That'll put him back in his place.
Neigh
If he wants a bigger role they should give him a dustpan and brush and ask him to clear the ground after the final whistle. That'll put him back in his place. Neigh AnotherPounding4BurnIey
  • Score: 1
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