Today The Rams snapped up versatile defender James O’Connor from League One side Doncaster Rovers. The 27 year old has signed a two-year deal at Pride Park, with the option of a further year for an undisclosed fee. Derby’s fourth summer signing can play all across the back four.
Here’s what manager Nigel Clough said about the deal: “Like all of the players we’ve brought into the squad this summer, we’ve admired James for some time and think he will be a very good addition to the squad. He’s versatile and can play right across the back four, and it’s great to have someone like that in the squad who can do a job in a number of positions. He has good Championship experience and he’s impressed us whenever we’ve faced Doncaster, so we’re delighted to welcome him to Derby County and it certainly strengthens the options and qualities we’ve got at the back.”
|Full name||James Francis Edward O’Connor
|Date of birth||20 November 1984 (age 27)|
|Place of birth||Birmingham, England|
|Height||5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)|
Now for a bit of background on James’ career so far.
He originally began as a creative midfield player but later transformed to a defender when he joined Aston Villa’s youth set up and was part of the team that won the FA Youth Cup in 2002. After he turned professional in 2004 he was loaned to Port Vale, where he made 15 appearances during his loan spell.
After struggling to break into the first team at Villa Park O’Connor joined Bournemouth on loan at the start of the 2004-2005 season, the deal was made permanent in January 2005 for a free transfer. He helped the club avoid relegation in the 2005/2006 season, making 43 appearances as The Cherries finished five points above the dreaded drop zone.
In May 2006 he made the move from Bournemouth to Yorkshire side Doncaster Rovers for £130,000. Not long after the season begun Sean O’Driscoll, who was James’ manager at Bournemouth, was appointed as manager at the Keepmoat. He cemented a first team place in his first season, playing 49 times. That season the defender was part of the Rovers side that won the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, beating Bristol Rovers 3-2 at the Millennium Stadium.
In the 2007/2008 season O’Connor played a pivotal role in the club’s success, with consistent performances at right back giving him a total of 49 appearances again. His performance in the League One Play-Off Final that season was rewarded with a man of the match award and Rovers achieving promotion to the Championship with a brilliant win over fellow Yorkshire side Leeds United. After the success of promotion he pledged his future with Donny, signing a three-year deal.
In his and Rovers first season in the Championship (2008/2009), he helped steer the club to a very respectable fourteenth place finish, finishing above Derby County. The next season, the 2009/2010 campaign, O’Connor scooped the player of the year award after continuing to excel in Doncaster’s team at full-back and at centre-back. He helped the club survive relegation in 2010/11 but lost his place in the team when Dean Saunders took over in September 2011, the 2011/2012 season saw the club relegated to League One.
Career Total: 306 appearances and 6 goals.
James’ versatility is always a good thing to have in a squad member, particularly with Derby’s injury record in the past few years. The organised and disciplined defender will hopefully be a good addition to the squad, I’m looking forward to seeing him in action in a Rams shirt.