CITY feared that new captain Stephen Darby would be lured away from Valley Parade by higher-division interest.

Darby’s three-year deal has been seen as the most significant business of the summer so far.

Phil Parkinson confirmed that there were other sides eyeing the right back keenly after his ever-present campaign.

But City headed that off with a contract that will tie Darby down until 2017 – as well as installing him as skipper for next season.

Parkinson said: “I thought we might lose Darbs. I knew there were a few Championship clubs looking at him and talking to him.

“But myself, Stephen and his agent sat down last week and had a good talk. He is a key signing for us and I’m really pleased to do it.

“Lads like Stephen know the huge potential at Bradford. We are only just starting to fulfil it really.

“I know this summer is presenting a challenge for us because the budget has been reduced. We’ve got to cut our cloth accordingly because of that and some players will have to move on.

“That’s just the way it is. But Stephen was always a priority to get him signed up.”

Parkinson feels Darby, who dominated the prizes at last month’s end-of-season club awards, is a natural choice to succeed Gary Jones with the captaincy.

He added: “I’ve always felt he is captain material. He’s been a leader anyway without having the arm band.

“Just the way he is as a person is a great example every day, at the training ground as well as on the pitch.”

The focus now switches to out-of-contract left back James Meredith, whose future at the club appears to be less certain.

Although reports linking him with Championship interest appear to be wide of the mark, progress has been slow.

Parkinson said: “It’s difficult with Mezza because he is in Australia but I’m speaking to his agent.

“Things have not gone as quick as I would have liked. But obviously there are other people I’m speaking to in that position.

“We are okay at this stage. We’ve still got quite a lot of spaces to fill but I’m pleased with the four bits of business we’ve done up to this point.

“McArdle, Darby, Liddle and Knott all represent good value in the light of the budget being cut. They are good players at a good age.”