GARY Bowyer is keen not to alert any rivals about Paudie O’Connor – as he confirmed City’s intent on bringing back the defender next season.

The on-loan Leeds defender continues to make his mark in the closing weeks of the relegation campaign.

O’Connor made his fifth successive start in Monday’s 1-1 draw with Gillingham at Valley Parade and kept the captain’s armband he was given in the second half against Coventry.

Bowyer has been impressed with the mature performances from the 21-year-old who he had first taken to Blackpool last summer.

And he is eager to push Leeds for the chance to take him on loan again for League Two – something that O’Connor has already indicated he would be happy to consider.

Bowyer said: “Paudie is a good character. When I did my homework in the summer when I was bringing him there (to Blackpool), I spoke to the appropriate people.

“They all gave him glowing references. They all told me what a good lad he was, what a good character and certainly what a good player.

“He’s competitive and for someone so young, he talks ever so well. I thought he was excellent again (on Monday).

“He’s a good organiser and I had no problems giving him the captain’s armband. I spoke to him on Sunday about it.

“But I’m going to shut up now talking about him because I don’t want anybody to take him in the summer bar us!”

O’Connor joined Leeds from Limerick in 2017 and captained their under-23 side.

He made his senior debut against Sunderland last April and went on to play three further Championship games against Preston, Aston Villa and Barnsley.

He signed a new contract in the summer until 2020 and Leeds also have the option to extend it by a further 12 months.

Having made 17 appearances with Blackpool, O’Connor signed for City in January but initially found his chances restricted because of the limit on the number of loan players allowed in a match-day squad.

Bowyer recalled him last month at Charlton for a first start in 13 games and he has remained in the team since.

The City boss added: “From the supporters’ point of view, I signed Kelvin Mellor and Paudie O’Connor at Blackpool.

“I know what they add to the team and those are the type of players I’ll be looking to bring in during the summer.”