Bradford City defender McArdle caught between rock and hard place (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Bradford City defender Rory McArdle caught between rock and hard place
Gary Jones is praying City do not lose their “rock” for Wembley.
Defender Rory McArdle left Fleetwood wearing a protective boot on Saturday after damaging ankle ligaments in the 2-2 draw.
While the club are still assessing the extent of the damage, the fear is that the player who has spent more minutes on the pitch than anyone this season could struggle to make the Capital One Cup final on February 24.
Skipper Jones admitted it would be a “massive blow” to lose McArdle from their plans.
“Fingers crossed it’s not too bad but Rory’s ankle was really swollen,” he said.
“Michael Nelson came in (the side) and I thought his partnership with Rory had done well. But we’ve got other players like Carl McHugh who can do a job there.”
Physio Matt Barrass checked on McArdle yesterday as well as Nahki Wells, who pulled his groin in a challenge with Fleetwood goalkeeper Scott Davies. But it is the Northern Ireland defender who is the major concern as the Swansea showpiece approaches.
City boss Phil Parkinson said: “It doesn’t look good when an ankle swells up quickly like that but we’ll know more once we’ve had another look.
“Injuries are going to happen. We’ve got to make sure we play with commitment and if somebody picks up an injury, that’s part and parcel of football.
“And I thought the lads did play with outstanding commitment.”
City came back from a goal down through a stunning free-kick from Wells – his 18th goal of the season. On-loan left back Ryan Dickson, who had come on to replace McArdle, then put them in front soon after the break.
But Fleetwood rescued a draw with a hotly-disputed penalty after James Hanson was adjudged to have handled.
Jones said: “I thought the penalty was really harsh. Dukey (Matt Duke) came out to get the ball and Hans had his hands up just to stop himself going over him.
“But the ball ricocheted up and hit him on the arm. Sometimes you get those, sometimes you don’t and we were unfortunate.
“It looked like we’d been away three weeks in the first half because we didn’t really get going. Then Nahki scored a great goal and I thought we completely dominated after that.
“It feels like a case of two points dropped but it’s a sign of a good team when you come back. We’ll take a draw into the game against (second-placed) Gillingham next week.”
Parkinson felt City’s display after the break warranted more – and was fuming with the penalty call.
“We put the onus on Fleetwood second half, stepped on them all over the pitch and played a lot better,” he said.
“But we got done by a very contentious decision by the ref and I’m really disappointed with that.”