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Outcast Andy Gray in from cold for Bradford City
Andy Gray has put himself in contention for a shock Boxing Day start against Rotherham after his goal-scoring return at Peterborough.
James Hanson missed Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Posh and is still struggling to make it for the Yorkshire derby on Thursday.
Outcast Gray came in from the cold to press his claims with a strong second-half display, including the first goal of his second spell at the club.
Phil Parkinson was hugely impressed with a striker who has hardly made it into the squad this season. He also revealed that Gray had shaken off an illness to play.
Parkinson said: “Andy’s been ill with a chest infection and has been on antibiotics. We even contemplated not bringing him but he said he felt all right.
“I thought he was superb. He held the ball up well and won headers and credit to him.
“It’s been difficult because he came back pre-season really fit and determined to make a go of it here and then broke his arm against Guiseley.
“Hanson and (Nahki) Wells have done well for us up front and Andy’s not had a chance.”
Gray had not been involved since the goalless draw at Cheltenham, when Parkinson rested most of his team ahead of the play-offs.
Now the 36-year-old forward, who is understood to be one of City’s top earners, could be thrust into the blood and thunder of their latest Valley Parade duel with Steve Evans’ Millers.
Parkinson said: “Supporters have got to understand Andy is a different type of targetman to Hans. He guides headers into people and uses his body to get in between the ball and the defender.
“He gave us a platform in the second half and we played from him. But he needs quality into his feet. Once you do that, he’ll hold the ball up.”
Gray’s goal was the high spot of a loss that dropped City two places to ninth in League One – five points behind Rotherham in that last play-off position.
They also lost Rory McArdle from the next game after the Northern Ireland international picked up his fifth booking.
Away fans claimed Peterborough midfielder Lee Tomlin smiled at them after winning the foul.
Parkinson said: “I saw the tackle and Rory clearly won the ball. The yellow card was unbelievable.
“I’d asked the ref before the game if he could use common-sense because both teams had players on four bookings. It’s very disappointing.”
Parkinson had brought in Matt Taylor as a third centre half and changed systems to try to stifle Peterborough. He also left Kyel Reid on the bench to play two wing-backs.
But the home side scored twice in a six-minute spell in the first half, including a wind-assisted rocket from Kgosi Ntlhe.
Parkinson said: “The story may well be was it the change of system that affected us? Well, we conceded a goal from 40 yards!
“We’ve been working it during the week. I felt it would benefit us against their diamond, having seen teams play and use that system successfully against them before.
“I thought it was right to come down strong with ammunition off the bench. Unfortunately we found it difficult to get out at times.
“Second half was always going to be easier with the strong wind behind us and I thought we reacted really well. We had a real go and had some great opportunities.”
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