Matt Duke today denied that City’s promotion form has been struck down by Capital One Cup fever.

The Bantams have slipped out of League Two’s play-off zone for the first time since mid-October after Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Barnet.

It was their second loss in three games and means City have picked up just five points from a possible 15 since their sensational quarter-final win over Arsenal.

But as all thoughts turn to tomorrow’s Valley Parade showdown with Aston Villa, Duke was adamant the squad had not already become distracted.

The experienced keeper said: “There’s going to be a lot of talk that the Villa game has been on our minds but that hasn’t been the case. We’ve put it to one side.

“You could say the same about the last round when we played against Arsenal but we won the game before that.

“I don’t think it’s anything to do with Villa. There was nothing further on my mind Saturday than playing well and trying to get the result for the team and I’m sure that’s true of all the lads.”

City peppered Edgar Davids’ Barnet with shots but fired a second successive blank and have not scored a goal in open play since Boxing Day.

Duke admitted: “I don’t think there was any problem with the way we played. It was just the same against Morecambe.

“Barnet have had three shots on target and scored twice. We’ve had 21 attempts on goal and not got one. It’s disappointing we create that many chances and don’t score.

“There’s still a long way to go this season and it’s so tight up there – a couple of wins and you’re looking at third.

“We need to be a bit tougher at the back and more ruthless up front. I don’t think there’s anything to worry about just yet.”

Phil Parkinson had hoped to bring in a new face – thought to be another striker – in time to play at Underhill. The deal could still be resurrected after being held up at the other end.

Parkinson said: “We need a lift and need the players in to give us that lift.

“Sometimes you can complain about effort when you get beaten. But I can’t moan about the lads and the way they’ve applied themselves.

“It was a game we completely dominated. We just lacked calmness in the final third – 21 shots have got to produce a goal.”

Villa came from behind to beat Ipswich in the FA Cup – their first win in five matches. Duke reckons the Premier League side’s wretched recent run, including an 8-0 thumping at Chelsea, makes them more dangerous opponents.

“Villa are going to be well up for it because it’s a chance for them to get some silverware,” he said.

“I don’t think any of their previous performances is anything to go by. They’ll want to prove a point.

“Everyone is talking about what we’ve done before and said it’s a potential banana skin for Villa. I think that will make them more up for it, so it makes it more difficult for us.”