Bradford City’s back-up corps called into action after loss of firepower (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Bradford City’s back-up corps called into action after loss of firepower
City’s first impression on the injury was one of relief.
There was enough concern over the state of the striker’s left ankle for physio Matt Barrass to make sure it was well protected but there was nothing to suggest his enforced absence will be anything lengthy.
That was backed up by Monday’s scan which showed up damaged ligaments.
Parkinson immediately ruled out Wells for “at least a couple of weeks”, although that could change when the swelling goes down enough to have another look.
Fingers crossed – and certainly the chirpy way Wells was talking suggested it – the healing process will not be too drawn out.
But losing a key weapon at this stage is nothing new. It was around this time last year that Kyel Reid was being helped gingerly off the field against Rochdale.
The winger had torn his groin in a challenge – a problem that would keep him out for ten weeks and trouble him for considerably longer.
It wasn’t until February that he regained a regular starting spot and Reid admitted recently that he was still feeling the odd twinge right up to the play-off final.
A glance at the league table shows how City’s current campaign mirrors this time last year – albeit in the next division up.
City are currently two points better off than after nine games – and sit one place higher in their respective division.
Last year, the Bantams had just come off an extremely harsh first home defeat against Port Vale after winning the first four at Valley Parade. This time they have four victories and a draw.
They have scored 14 compared with 12, while conceding three both times.
City have won once in four attempts on their travels – the same as before. At least, this year they’ve avoided a Rotherham-style thumping.
But after two months of being able to pick from a stable bunch – and enjoying the luxury of naming a virtually unchanged starting line-up week after week – Parkinson now faces up to his first significant setback.
Reid’s injury last year kicked off a depressing run of departures. By the end of the month, City had lost both centre halves on the same afternoon at Burton – Luke Oliver disappearing for the season.
Like now, City had reached October before any problems set in. Then players went down like skittles – the luck can change just like that.
Parkinson does not need telling. Like any manager, he knows the unpredictable nature of a team’s health.
But without tempting fate, he has assembled a squad that should be able to absorb those body blows.
Any side will be hit hard by losing the marksman who has fired the lion’s share of their goals. But City have willing replacements.
With Parkinson keeping faith with the 11 who had ended the club’s six-year exile in the basement division, the rest have had to bide their time on the sidelines.
Now is the moment to find out about the quality of the back-up brigade and his summer recruitment.
Mark Yeates offers a very different dimension to City’s attack should Parkinson, as expected, decide to deploy him again in the role that he took up from the bench last weekend.
He cannot compete with Wells for speed but he possesses the guile and craft in his play to find little gaps and tempt defenders out of their comfort zone. We’ve already seen glimpses of his Championship class.
Then there is the eternal substitute Alan Connell, another who prefers to operate slightly deeper looking for little holes.
And add the power and pace of Caleb Folan to the mix. Admittedly well short of match fitness, if he can rediscover the form that earned him Premier League tickets with Wigan and Hull then City could have another effective weapon in their armoury.
October promises to be a test with a run of tough fixtures. That has inevitably got harder without Wells, at least for the first few weeks.
But Parkinson’s City have proved time and again that they are up for a challenge. They’ve got enough in reserve to rise to this one.
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