Even with a game against Liverpool on offer, manager Stuart McCall is promising to “freshen up” his team for tonight’s League Cup second-round tie at home to Lincoln City, which could mean a rest for the 18-year-old centre-back.
Encouraged by Staunton’s rise, fellow teenagers Finn Cousin-Dawson, Jorge Sikora, Kian Scales and Connor Shanks will hope to face the League One Imps tonight.
“Reece probably wasn’t expecting to come into the team so quickly but the gaffer has seen he’s got something,” said fellow centre-back O’Connor.
“He speaks to Reece every day and I think he’s making him feel more comfortable. As the weeks go on he’ll get better and better.”
The youngsters have brought a freshness to the squad.
“Since the first day of pre-season they were running around like mad, eager to impress,” said 27-year-old O’Connor.
“We knew they were good footballers but they’ve taken no prisoners, you can hear them saying, ‘Give me the ball, I want the ball!’ We thought they might be a bit shy.
“Hopefully they’ll get more chances as the season goes on. I know Reece is the one that everyone’s talking about but the other lads have been really good as well, especially in training.”
Staunton’s footballing intelligence and ability have impressed.
“He’s got a nice left foot and he can play nice passes and put balls into the box when he’s further up the pitch,” continued O’Connor.
“He doesn’t open his mouth much, but hopefully as the season goes on he’ll get more and more confident.
“Hopefully his defending will get better with more games. He hasn’t looked out of place.”
At the other end of the age spectrum, 32-year-old midfielder Billy Clarke could be rested.
The winners host Premier League champions Liverpool, unfortunately behind closed doors, in next week’s third round.
Last six games: Bradford City DDWLWL; Lincoln City WDWWDL.
Referee: M Salisbury (Lancashire).
Last time: Bradford City 1 Lincoln City 2, February 1, 2011, League Two.