Pitch battle with County Notts one for the purist, says Bantams boss (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Pitch battle with County Notts one for the purist, says Bantams boss
Oliver McBurnie, pictured, is expected to get some action from the bench today, with Nahki Wells doubtful with a hamstring injury and Mark Yeates set to fill in up front
If you want to herald 2014’s arrival with a footballing feast, best steer clear of Meadow Lane.
When City head down the M1 to face basement-dwellers Notts County, Phil Parkinson knows exactly what will await them.
“We know it’s going to be one almighty battle,” he said. “The pitch is going to be very heavy and we’ve got to be prepared to fight.
“We’ve got to pick a team we feel is going to be able to compete with them. They are desperate for anything at the moment and physically we’ve got to be able to match up.
“We know they are going to try to throw everything at us and we have to be ready to deal with that.”
County drew 1-1 at Valley Parade five weeks ago as boss Shaun Derry picked up his first point in charge at the fifth attempt.
They went into Christmas with two wins and a draw – including a thumping 4-0 success at Colchester – but successive away defeats have dropped them back to the bottom.
City’s form is nothing to shout home about, with only one win since October 5. But Parkinson reckons they can take advantage of the tension the home side will be feeling.
“There’s going to be a nervousness. It’s two-fold when teams are at the bottom fighting and scrapping for everything – there’s an anxiousness in the crowd and on the pitch.”
The niggles are expected in the hectic holiday schedule but with no game on Saturday because of Carlisle’s FA Cup involvement, the Bantams will have a ten-day break after today.
Parkinson added: “We can go out there and give it absolutely everything.
“It’s tough for all teams at this time of the year with games coming back to back. The lads were out on their feet in the dressing room after Sunday.
“But the spirit in the team is still firmly in place. We’re striving for that win.
“We’re just looking for that bit of quality in and around the final third.”
Parkinson is likely to turn to Mark Yeates to back up james Hanson again if Wells is ruled out.
Oliver McBurnie could also have a part to play from the bench after a lively appearance against Swindon. Parkinson was impressed with the 17-year-old’s response after a gruelling first start on Boxing Day.
“It was a really difficult debut for him against Rotherham and I knew that going into the game.
“With Andy Gray being out and Caleb Folan’s contract coming to an end we threw him out there but Olly’s going to be a really good player.
“He’s got to keep working at his game, which he will do. He’s an intelligent footballer and he has got that bit of quality in and around the box.
“He showed that on Boxing Day when he played (Garry) Thompson in for a shot and he did again on Sunday with a terrific cross that James Hanson nearly got on the end of.”
Former Scarborough striker Lewis Clarkson is expected to retain his spot on the bench as Alan Connell steps up his bid to find another club during the transfer window.
Parkinson said: “I just thought Lewis looked better in training and deserved his opportunity.
“Alan knows the situation. We’ve discussed before that once January arrives he needs to be playing somewhere.
“He made a good contribution last year but hasn’t started this time. If you go two years without really starting games of football, it’s difficult so you need to get a club.”
Notts County are missing centre half Alan Sheehan, who was sent off in their defeat at Crawley – a game that home manager John Gregory called the “most one-sided 1-0 you have ever seen in your life”.
Derry, who will replace Sheehan with Manny Smith, said: “I’m not going to come out and say there were many positives from the day, because there weren’t.
“It was so disappointing for me and the boys and everyone connected with the club.
“The fans have made two trips over the festive season and have gone away not enjoying it.
“But I can’t afford to get too down and despondent about it.
“These lads need to be back in the right frame of mind ready for what is going to be a big game against Bradford.”
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