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Bradford City admit to change of priority
Phil Parkinson will spare some of City’s walking wounded from JP Trophy duty at Crewe tonight after admitting their cup priorities have changed.
The Bantams could be fined up to £5,000 if they do not field at least six players who started on Saturday for the northern area semi-final.
But Parkinson may be prepared to risk a slap on the wrist to give several patched-up members of his squad a breather.
“We’ve got a lot of players who are going to have to be left out,” he said.
“In fairness, four or five weeks ago you would say this was a great chance of getting to Wembley.
“But obviously with the Aston Villa result, the emphasis has swung slightly. It’s very difficult.”
Parkinson is waiting for confirmation of how long City will be without James Meredith after it was confirmed the left back is suffering from glandular fever. The Australian spent the weekend in hospital.
And with City potentially 90 minutes from Wembley in the Capital One Cup, he will take the chance to rest several regulars at Gresty Road.
Parkinson said: “We can’t have everything and there are players like Stephen Darby, Rory McArdle and Will Atkinson who need to be pulled out of the firing line.
“Will has had a problem with his stomach for a while and Darby’s done remarkably well to play with a bruised foot.
“Obviously James Hanson has a cracked toe, so there are quite a few players we’ve been patching up to get out there.
“Darby played with an injection against Aston Villa. An hour and a half before kick-off, we were still deciding whether to pick him or not.
“The problem is that when the injection wears off, the pain is just as bad. So he needs a break, which he’ll get this week.”
Garry Thompson returned to training yesterday after his knee problem but he is unlikely to be risked. Tom Naylor has recovered from a slight hamstring strain.
Parkinson said: “We’ll pick the best team we can but I don’t think any league rules can make us play players that aren’t right.
“Our team will be strong and will be fresh. I feel that will be the best way of winning it.”
City will find out in the next few days the seriousness of the strain of the virus affecting Meredith.
The worst-case scenario could rule him out for the rest of the season; a huge blow considering his consistent form so far.
Ryan Dickson, on loan from Southampton, made his debut against Oxford and has been brought in to fill the void.
Parkinson said: “I feel for James because he’s done so well to get us to this stage of the season but unfortunately these things happen.”
Like Dickson, Andy Gray started for the first time in the weekend defeat and Parkinson admitted he was starved of service up front.
“It was a difficult game for him because they played three centre backs,” he said.
“Andy’s a different type of player to Hans and needs quality balls into his feet. We didn’t do that enough.
“He’s a very good finisher as well but there weren’t any crosses in the box for him.
“Villa was such a big game for us and everybody took a while to come back down to earth.
“We tried to say all the right things but it was a combination of that and the way Oxford set up. They were a big, physical team and we didn’t respond to it.”