STEPHEN Darby today insisted that leaving Valley Parade never crossed his mind.

The new skipper is relishing the return to pre-season and the challenge of leading a rebuilt City team after signing a three-year deal last month.

Darby’s show of commitment, after sweeping the board at the club’s awards ceremony at the end of last term, has been seen as the biggest signing of the summer by fans.

And the defender, who played every game on City’s return to League One, stressed that he was never tempted to look elsewhere.

Darby said: “The only thing on my mind was to sign for Bradford City. That was all I wanted to do and I was absolutely made up once we’d sorted it out.

“I couldn’t wait to get back training and see the lads. The two years I’ve had here so far have been brilliant and hopefully we can keep pushing on.

“I’ve made some great friends and team-mates and people have moved on. But that happens everywhere in football, players come and go at every club and we’ve got to deal with it.

“There have been changes in the squad but we’ve got some great new signings and I’m sure there will be a few more to come.

“The most important thing is that we have a good pre-season and built the foundations to be ready for the first game.”

Darby’s close pal Gary Jones was the most high profile departure but the veteran is fully behind Phil Parkinson’s decision to hand the captain’s arm band to his former travelling companion.

The right back added: “I speak to Gaz quite a bit because we’re good mates and he was happy for me.

“I was lucky enough to travel in with him for a season when I was on loan at Rochdale and then two years here.

“He’s a great player and a professional and I learned so much from him.

“We all know the work he’s done for the club over the past two seasons. Now it’s up to us to try and keep progressing.

“It’s a massive privilege to be captain but once you’re out on the pitch, it’s not just me but the ten others. That’s why we’ve been so successful over the last two years because of a brilliant team ethic and we need to carry that on.”

Jon McLaughlin continues to train with the squad as City wait for a decision on his contract. Raffaele De Vita is also hoping to prove his fitness and earn a new deal.

James Meredith remains a free agent after rejecting his offer but there have been talks since and City have left the ball in the Australian’s court.

Meanwhile, Alan Nevison has been appointed interim academy manager following the resignation of Peter Horne.