City’s youth team aim to make it a season of double celebration at Valley Parade tonight.
The young Bantams received the Youth Alliance (north east) trophy at the weekend after cruising to the league title with three games to spare.
Now they hope to add the Youth Alliance National Cup to that by beating southern champions Colchester.
With a big home crowd expected to cheer them on, coach Steve Thornber gives his personal insight into some of the players that will be on display.
Jack’s the second-year keeper and I’ve tried to play him in all the cup competitions because it’s his last season at under-18 level. He will play if he’s back fit after his knee injury. He’s been out on work experience at Eccleshill, Goole Town and Scarborough to play some men’s football. His kicking is good and he’s the organiser of the YTs (Youth Trainees Scheme) – the head boy of the group.
He may look baby-faced but again he’s done nothing but improve. He’s first in every morning and first in the gym. He listens and his awareness and shot-stopping is improving. He’s a very level-headed boy. His brother used to be here as an apprentice, so he knows exactly what is required. With another year to come and another growth spurt, big things are expected of him.
Came in from Huddersfield as a centre half but he’s not big enough for that. He’s a very composed ball player who has been playing right back and acquitted himself really well in the reserves in that role. Another who’s been in the first-team squad and has a great eye for a pass. Takes everything in his stride.
He’s got an unbelievable throw-in, which is a great weapon. We started him at left back just to use that but obviously as a centre half you don’t want him always going up to take throws. Ideally we could do with him getting on the end of them as well because he’s a big unit. He possibly could score more from set-pieces but he’s the rock of the defence. A big strong left-footed lad.
One of the most cultured centre halves I’ve ever worked with. He is an Alan Hansen character, never flustered – give him another 12 months under his belt and he will be a first-team player in my opinion. He’s already trained many times with the seniors and nothing seems to faze him. He just needs to grow a little bit and get some more strength but I’ve not come across many better ball-playing central defenders.
Picked up recently from Sheffield United. We played him at left back against Hull. He’s strong and will go through a brick wall for you. Can play centre half as well and is technically very good. He’s a good talker so I can see him being captain next year as a first-year apprentice. He will be involved at some stage, possibly on the bench.
Captain of the team and been involved in the first-team squad a few times after going with them in pre-season to Ireland. He’s our midfield playmaker, can pass a ball with both feet and wants to be involved. He is also not afraid to get a foot in and certainly likes a tackle.
The Stuart McCall of the team, or the ginger bomber as we call him. He’s a little fiery red head who gets about the pitch. His performance in the northern final against Hull was the best I’ve seen from a midfielder in many a season. He gets all over the field, will get in people’s faces and win the ball and his passing has improved as well. He’s our carrier who gets the ball to the likes of Jack Stockdill. Pity his shooting’s not the same.
Free-kick expert who has got so much ability but needs to curb his enthusiasm. We don’t know what position he’s going to be because he’s played all over – on the wing, up front and central midfield. He’s got a great engine, can shoot with both feet and is a dead-ball specialist. Unfortunately he’s had a bad knee injury and the game may come a little bit too soon for him.
A right-footed player who has been playing wide left. He came to us late as an under-16 from a non-league team in Leeds. He has so much ability and skill and can do some fantastic things with a ball. Scored 11 goals in 22 games but he’s versatile as well – he played centre half in the early rounds when we were struggling there. And Nathan and James King are vying for who will go in goal if the keeper gets injured!
Mr Consistent for the under-16s but has played numerous games for the 18s, including the northern final in central midfield with Sam Wright. You never notice him on the pitch, he’s not one who excites but just goes about his business. Every single game he’s seven out of ten wherever he plays. He never lets you down and next year I’m looking forward to working with him full-time.
Leeds let him go at the end of last year and he still has a lot of growing to do. He wants to do well for us and we’ve asked him to play in a number of positions. He’s played left back, right back and right wing but next year he’s going to be more of a forward player. Has scored a couple of important goals for us but we won’t see the best of him for another 12 months.
Thought he was still at school at first and didn’t have an understanding about what being a footballer was all about. But we’ve worked with him so hard and over the last two months he’s started to knuckle down. We’ve seen so much improvement, his pace is frightening and we’re looking to improve his final ball. He’s a bit like the youth team’s Kyel Reid.
Not sure whether he’s going to be a centre forward or a winger because he likes coming in off the line. As a centre forward, Joe scored 12 in 28 games. He’s really good in the air and has a great shooting technique. Needs to have a bit more belief in himself but I suppose when you’ve had Olly McBurnie in the team he’s had someone to look up to.
Really strong in the air and has an unbelievable jump. Technically he has improved throughout the season, helped of course by training and playing with the first team. He’s still got a lot to learn regarding his hold-up play but he’s one of the best in the air at that age group that I’ve seen. He’s been our stand-out player.
A lot’s been said about him. He’s a player who never does a thing in the game and then he scores three. He’s the best natural goalscorer that I’ve worked with. He’ll pick the ball up 35 yards out, get it out of his feet and without any back lift the ball will be in the net. Every time he gets the ball, he looks like he is going to score. A very important player for us.