Does Bradford boss' praise suggest Leeds could rue letting Paudie O'Connor go?

Leeds fans show their support prior to the Sky Bet Championship Play-off semi final second leg match between Leeds United and Derby County at Elland Road on May 15, 2019 in Leeds, England.

Marcelo Bielsa's Championship giants Leeds United have allowed Paudie O'Connor to join Yorkshire rivals Bradford City in League Two.

5th January 2019, Bloomfield Road, Blackpool, England; Emirates FA Cup third round football, Blackpool versus Arsenal; Paudie O'Connor of Blackpool tackles Eddie Nketiah of Arsenal

Bradford City boss Gary Bowyer could hardly hide his delight after the League Two outfit snapped up Paudie O’Connor from Yorkshire neighbours Leeds United, speaking to the club’s official website.

After spending the second half of last season on loan at Valley Parade, the Irishman has now joined the Bantams on a permanent basis, signing a three-year contract after turning down the chance to join a number of other third tier clubs.

Leeds fans might be disappointed to see the 21-year-old go, particularly as The Whites are short of depth at centre-half.

But Marcelo Bielsa decided that O’Connor was surplus to requirements at Elland Road, according to the Yorkshire Evening Post, and had no qualms about releasing a player who was handed his senior debut during the ill-fated reign of Paul Heckingbottom.

 

While Bielsa wasn’t a fan of the former Limerick youngster, however, Bowyer clearly is.

“We are delighted to have secured Paudie on a permanent deal and look forward to seeing him develop even further,” said the former Blackburn Rovers coach.

“I signed him last year, at Blackpool, and everyone knows what I think of him as a player and a character. In my opinion, he has the desire and ability to play at a higher level.

Blackpool manager Gary Bowyer looks on during the Sky Bet League One match between Northampton Town and Blackpool at Sixfields on October 28, 2017 in Northampton, England.

“He displayed great leadership skills when we gave him the captain’s armband at the end of last season. We will need those qualities again in this difficult division.”

It remains to be seen whether O’Connor really does, as Bowyer suggests, have the ‘ability to play at a higher level’ and whether Leeds made a mistake letting the talented centre-back go after just four first-team appearances.

He could have played a key role for Leeds next season with Leeds’ rather small squad in need of some competition.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles of Arsenal is challenged by Paudie O'Connor of Blackpool during the Carabao Cup Fourth Round match between Arsenal and Blackpool at Emirates Stadium on October 31,...

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