Paudie O'Connor relishing chance to play in front of big crowds after swapping Blackpool for Bradford City

Paudie O'Connor playing in front of another low crowd during his time at Blackpool
Paudie O'Connor playing in front of another low crowd during his time at Blackpool

Paudie O’Connor says he is relishing the opportunity to play in front of a packed stadium after having his loan cut short at Blackpool to join League One rivals Bradford City.

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The defender spent the first half of the season on loan with the Seasiders from parent club Leeds United, making 17 appearances.

But the Irishman was recalled from his loan early and subsequently sent out to Bradford, where the 21-year-old is looking to make an immediate impression.

“Going to Blackpool there was obviously the issue between the owner and the fans,” he told the Telegraph and Argus. “I didn’t really get to fully experience the atmosphere at Bloomfield.

“There have been twice as many away fans as home for the last couple of games which has been a bit weird. You’ve just got to get on with it because it’s what you do on the pitch that ultimately matters.

“But coming to Bradford and getting crowds of up to 18,000 for home games will obviously be a huge factor for the next four months. That support will be needed.”

O’Connor’s last game for Blackpool was against Arsenal on Saturday, the second time he started against the Gunners this season.

“It was a good game to finish on,” the defender added. “It was a bit of a mad six months but a good experience for me, nonetheless.

“I went there under Gary Bowyer and then he left after the first game for personal reasons. That threw a spanner in the works straightaway.

“Obviously the number two Terry McPhillips got the job and it was a bit chop-change. It was kind of hard to put a bit of momentum together as a player, especially as one of the younger lads.

“I didn’t play as much as I would have liked to. But I still got 17 games under my belt, so it was good experience – and definitely an eye-opener as to first-team football in League One.”

O’Connor, who signed a new deal last summer to keep him at Leeds until 2020, is already on his fourth different boss at Elland Road.

“It’s been a bit mad,” he admitted. “But every manager change is an opportunity to prove yourself. That’s one upside of it.

“At the back end of last year, I spoke with Paul Heckingbottom, who was manager then, and he advised me that a full season at League One level would do me the world of good.

“Even though there was a manager change over the off-season that didn’t really alter my goal for this year.

“Blackpool was one of the first clubs to come calling and that’s how I ended up there.”

O’Connor, who trained with Bradford for the first time on Tuesday, is hoping to come straight into the reckoning for their weekend clash with Barnsley.

“I spoke with the manager David Hopkin and he said they were a bit short at the back, even though they’ve picked up a few good results in the last couple of weeks,” O’Connor added.

“He liked the way I played and said I had the opportunity to come and get a few games and help them climb up the table. They are definitely not where they should be for the size of the club – it was an easy decision to come.

“Barnsley are another big club for League One. It will be a massive game and if called upon, it would be a great one to start at.”