Rory McArdle’s decision to sign a new deal at City has reinforced the “backbone” of the team, according to David Baldwin.

The Northern Ireland international has committed his future to Valley Parade until June 2017 – renewing his defensive double act with Andrew Davies.

Director of operations Baldwin believes that pairing is crucial for Phil Parkinson’s side.

He said: “Rory’s partnership with Andrew Davies has been an excellent one and it’s nice to see that locked down.

“A strong centre half pairing is always a good backbone to a club and their drive and determination has played a big part in the progress that we have achieved.

“It’s important now we continue to build on that both with our discussions with the players we are trying to keep and new targets as well.”

The 27-year-old McArdle made 43 appearances last season to go with the 56 during City’s history-making campaign in 2012-13. He has scored seven goals, including memorable headers against Aston Villa in the Capital One Cup semi-finals and Northampton in the play-off final.

McArdle said: “Having spoken to the manager already this summer, I am excited about the future for the club and I want to be part of it.

“The progress the club have made in the two years that I’ve been here already has been very impressive. To me, it shows the club are moving in the right direction.

“I think we acquitted ourselves well in League One last season and we want to continue to improve.”

McArdle is the first of the out-of-contract players to agree a new deal with the club. City have already released Andy Gray, Garry Thompson, Matthew Bates and skipper Gary Jones.

City are understood to have made offers to at least four of those whose current deals are up at the end of next month.

Player of the year Stephen Darby, fellow full back James Meredith, Nathan Doyle and Kyel Reid are among the large number of Parkinson’s squad in that position and talks are ongoing.

Joint-chairman Julian Rhodes told the T&A last week that some established names could choose to leave.