BRADFORD (Park Avenue) have made the eye-catching signing of ex-Sheffield United youngster and former Republic of Ireland youth international Connor Dimaio.

The 28-year-old also played League One football for Chesterfield and had a key role in Stockport County’s promotion from National League North in 2018-19.

Dimaio established himself as a reliable player at sixth-tier level for half-a-decade thereafter, before joining Northern Premier League Premier Division side Matlock Town at the start of last season.

But he suffered a dreadful knee injury while playing for them against Ashton United in March 2023, damaging his cruciate ligament, which ruled him out for the rest of the year.

A crowdfunding campaign was set up to pay for career-saving surgery and Dimaio received a £1,000 donation from former Sheffield United youth teammate and current Arsenal and England goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Aaron Ramsdale claims the ball in Arsenal's 1-0 win at Brentford last November.Aaron Ramsdale claims the ball in Arsenal's 1-0 win at Brentford last November. (Image: PA.)

Fortunately, Dimaio has been able to get back on track in the last few months, having joined 10th tier Rainworth Miners Welfare this January as part of his injury rehabilitation.

Avenue now clearly feel that the central midfielder is ready to make that step back up and join them in the Northern Premier League East Division next season, having made him their fifth signing of the summer already.

The Horsfall side have dropped from the sixth to the eighth tier in successive seasons, but are hopeful the only way is up from here.

Chairman Gareth Roberts told the T&A, while over in the UK from Texas in January, that if relegation did happen again, the club would have to go into the 2024-25 campaign strongly, with a first-team squad capable of competing for promotion.

And both Roberts and the club’s sporting director Tom McStravick reiterated that point in an interview with BBC Radio Leeds earlier this week, with the former saying there is more money to spend on the squad than there was last summer.

McStravick believes the club will be going into their NPL East Division campaign “with a top-four budget” and both he and the chairman insist that promotion is the primary aim in 2024-25.