BLACKBURN Rovers have turned down several loan offers for Connor Mahoney from League One sides, with Owen Coyle believing the 19-year-old to be a big part of his first team plans.

Rovers are looking to secure Mahoney’s long-term future, and remain in talks over a new deal, but his rise through the ranks could well see John O’Sullivan leave the club permanently this month.

O’Sullivan has spent the first half of this season on loan at League Two Accrington Stanley, his fifth temporary spell away from Rovers in the last three seasons.

The 23-year-old sees his contract at Ewood Park run out in the summer and Coyle admits the winger, who has six Rovers appearances to his name, could be allowed to find a new club this month.

Mahoney, meanwhile, has been an unused substitute in the last four games, and while the winger still awaits his first Championship outing of the season, the Rovers boss believes him to be a big part of his squad.

“He has been in the 18 for the last four games and he will be again against Ipswich,” Coyle said.

“A lot of things are coming together for Connor, I think he understands what’s been asked of him and what the demands are going to be.

“He will get chances within the second half of the season.

“I have had 12 or 14 clubs wanting Connor Mahoney on loan, but I’ve said no because he’s part of what we’re doing and we need to make that pathway for him.”

Mahoney became the club’s third youngest debutant in January 2015 when he came off the bench in Rovers’ FA Cup third round replay defeat at Manchester City aged 16 years and 337 days.

Since then he has made four more first-team appearances, including two in the EFL Cup this season, but hasn’t featured in the league since the 2-2 draw with Bristol City in April.

On the contract talks, Coyle said: “Connor knows that I want him here.

“We’ve had dialogue with his agent and with (Football Director) Paul (Senior) coming on board he will take that on and look to get that finalised.

“He’s one I have a high opinion of, I love my wingers, and I think Connor is getting better all the time.

“I have always said that the young players at this club will get chances, and he will, as we have seen with (Lewis) Travis, (Willem) Tomlinson and (Ryan) Nyambe who have all been involved in recent weeks.

“We want that quality of young player coming through and pushing for the first-team.”

Mahoney’s emergence though, plus the summer arrival of Liam Feeney, has pushed O’Sullivan down the pecking order somewhat.

His loan spell is now up at Accrington Stanley, where he played 19 times in League Two, and with his contract at Rovers in its final six months, Coyle said: “John is one who I have had a very honest chat with.

“He has been here for a number of years and he has got to the stage of his career where he needs to be playing regular first-team football.

“He was out on loan in the first half of the season at Accrington and John Coleman likes him, he’s had him before, and thought he had done well, but I have young Connor Mahoney coming through that I have to make a pathway for.

“I think that John needs to get his career going and for that, he may be allowed to leave permanently to continue his career somewhere.

“He’s a nice lad but at the moment we have players who are ahead of him.”