Wayne Jacobs reckons Carl McHugh has what it takes to make the step up to League One if he remains with City.

The young Irishman is one of the out-of-contract players currently discussing a new deal with the club.

McHugh shot to prominence in his debut term to earn a call-up for the Republic of Ireland under-21s as well as the mantle of Football League young player of the month.

And former Bantams stalwart Jacobs believes the 20-year-old centre half has demonstrated the qualities needed to adjust to playing in the next division.

Jacobs said: “That’s the natural question but he’s still maturing and growing as a player. My own personal view is that he has shown he can deal with the pressure and represented himself well in some big, big games and that he is capable.

“Obviously when it comes down to people’s contracts, it’s about how much they want to stay and that’s for the club to sort.

“But I thought his progression last season was a good one. For a young man, he put in some mature performances.

“From a club’s point of view, if you’ve got a young international who has step-ped in and played like he has done then he’s an asset.”

McHugh earned an initial one-year deal after impressing Phil Parkinson on trial in the last pre-season. He went on to play 28 times and scored three goals – most famously against Aston Villa in the Capital One Cup semi-final first leg.

The rookie learned fast during the cup run when he deputised alongside Rory McArdle for the injured Andrew Davies and Luke Oliver. Three days after losing both first-choice central defenders to injury, he helped City shut out Wigan over two hours at the DW Stadium.

Jacobs added: “He stepped up to the plate that night and showed he could cope with it mentally and tactically. The back four was a tight-knit unit that gave very little away.

“He’s shown he can slot in well and beyond that he can also fill in at left back – a position that’s not naturally his own.

“I remember Carl playing there at Port Vale in the JP Trophy in a really young team and he had a tough time.

“Then he had to go back there against the same opponent (in the league) and I thought it would be interesting to see how he coped. After a wobbly start he got stronger and stronger and dealt with it.

“If that was my son, you’d be very pleased with his season. As a football club, you would understand why we want to keep him.”