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Veterans’ love of game can rub off on Bradford City rookies
City’s young breed can watch and learn from veteran campaigners Gary Jones and Andy Gray, according to assistant boss Steve Parkin.
Gray’s arrival on an 18-month contract raised a few eyebrows among supporters because of his age.
At 35, like Jones, he brings a wealth of experience into the dressing room. For Parkin, the two of them also present the perfect example for City’s rookies to learn from.
Parkin said: “For the types that do play right into their late 30s, it’s not for the money. They obviously still want to get paid but they love playing and love keeping themselves fit. They don’t want their careers to come to an end.
“I’ve known Gary for 14 years since I first started at Rochdale and he just loves the game. It’s obvious to see and that has never changed.
“You look at the career Andy has had and the shape he’s still in as well as Gary. If that doesn’t rub off on some of the younger ones, then something is wrong.
“Both Andy and Gary look after themselves – there’s not an ounce of fat on either of them.
“The sports science of football is massive. Lots of players over 30 completely buy into it, ranging from what they eat and drink to how they train.
“It’s changed hugely over the years but it’s also about the individual, how keen they are to keep playing and their love of football.”
Gray made his second City debut against Oxford last Saturday and then played an hour in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy exit at Crewe to build up his match fitness after half a season spent on the Leeds bench.
Centre half Michael Nelson this week became the latest member of the Valley Parade thirty somethings, which also includes 35-year-old goalkeeper Matt Duke.
Parkin believes the presence of the older heads within the team can also make life easier on the sideline for himself and boss Phil Parkinson.
“We were adamant in the summer that they were the type of individuals we wanted to bring in,” he said.
“The best teams are the self-managing ones. Ones that have very good seasons have players on the pitch managing it for you. You don’t have to be on the touchline kicking every ball unnecessarily.”
City’s game at Port Vale this weekend fell victim to the severe winter weather as expected.
The postponement will do the Bantams a favour, allowing them to rest up ahead of their Capital One Cup semi-final second leg at Aston Villa on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Blair Turgott has been called up for the England under-19 friendly against Denmark at Doncaster on Tuesday, February 5 – two days after his City loan is up.