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Bradford City boss Phil Parkinson: Let's show we mean business
City can show they are capable of living with the League One big boys – by beating them over the next couple of weeks.
Phil Parkinson has thrown down the challenge to his players as they head into four games that could shape their season.
City tackle leaders Leyton Orient at Valley Parade tomorrow before facing Peterborough, Rotherham and Swindon in the run-up to 2014. All four opponents are currently above them.
By the time they hit New Year’s Day, Parkinson expects to have a much clearer idea of how the campaign is likely to pan out.
He said: “It’s a great chance to show the division we mean business.
“When we come through these games, we’ll know whether we’re going to be up there in and among it or not.
“We’ve had a look at ways we can improve and things we can do better. While we’ve been picking up points along the way, we want to keep improving.
“You’ve got to do that because we are in a very competitive division.
“Each individual has got to improve that bit more. If six or seven players go up five per cent, that’s a hell of a lot difference to a team.
“A lot of the lads have done that bit extra in training in the last ten days and we’ve got to keep pushing them.”
Leyton Orient have netted more goals than any team in the country and boast the division’s best away record.
They have won seven away and scored in all ten games, losing only once against Coventry at their temporary Northampton base.
With City without a home win since September, they pose a daunting test.
But Parkinson feels there are parallels to be drawn between his side and Russell Slade’s high-fliers – and sees them as an example for keeping a settled squad.
He said: “Russell is an experienced manager and knows how to play it at this level and sustain success.
“There have been ups and downs along the way – and they started last season poorly. But they finished strongly and carried it on so, over the calendar year, their form is probably right up there.
“They are a strong, physical side who’ve got that bit of flair in the final third. They are similar to us in a way.
“Russell kept what he had together in the summer and just brought a couple of loan players back. They hit the ground running and you get confidence through that.
“It’s what we’ve said at Bradford. For many years there’s been too much change every summer.
“You don’t get any continuity if that happens. We’ve benefited from having a settled squad.
“We’ve kept the core of our team together because we felt they all deserved a chance at this level. So far we’re relatively pleased with how we’ve done.”
It is 12 days since City’s last outing at Oldham and Parkinson believes the free weekend came as a timely boost. The enforced break also gave Garry Thompson time to sort out his troublesome Achilles.
The winger had an injection last week and reported no problems on his return to training.
Parkinson added: “Thommo’s been getting on with this Achilles problem but we felt if it was left much longer, he would end up missing games.
“We took the chance to give him the injection and the break has helped. He looked great in training.
“He’s making goals – he tops the assists list with six. But he prides himself on his finishing and needs to threaten the opposition goal more, that’s what we’ve been to talking to him about.”
Orient’s 15-goal top scorer David Mooney is suspended after his FA Cup red card against Walsall. But strike partner Kevin Lisbie is expected to return from an ankle injury.
Parkinson, who has previously worked with both players, said: “Mooney being out has got to help our cause because he’s been at the heart of a lot of their good stuff this season.”
Meanwhile, Bantams midfielder Ricky Ravenhill will stay with League Two side Northampton Town for at least a further month following confirmation that his loan period with the Cobblers has been extended.
Since moving to the Sixfields Stadium last month, Ravenhill has featured in every one of Town’s matches.
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