Don't be Staggered if Clarke scores

Matt Clarke has yet to score for Bradford during his injury-plagued 18 months at Valley Parade

Matt Clarke has yet to score for Bradford during his injury-plagued 18 months at Valley Parade

Matt Clarke has yet to score for Bradford during his injury-plagued 18 months at Valley Parade

Matt Clarke has yet to score for Bradford during his injury-plagued 18 months at Valley Parade

First published in Sport Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by , Bradford City Reporter

Matt Clarke will not feature too prominently in the bookies' scoring odds tomorrow.

You have to go back to April 1, 2006 for the last time he hit the target.

But Mansfield will still be wary if the big defender rumbles forward - and with good reason.

Clarke has claimed 15 goals in his career and three of them have come against the Stags.

He has scored in each of his previous two meetings with Mansfield for Darlington.

So maybe the City fans, who are expected to travel down in numbers, might be tempted with a pre-match flutter.

"It's been a while since the last one," Clarke admitted. "I'd love to score again sooner rather than later and break my Bradford duck."

A first goal would cap his best run in the side since joining City 18 months ago. Five successive starts represents a marathon stay given the list of injuries that have held him back.

"It's so frustrating when you're waiting all the time, so to be playing feels great. I just want to build on the performances each week and get a certain level of consistency.

"It's such an important time of the season coming up with so many games. I'm sure a lot of the squad will be used so you need to keep people fit.

"We've got the chance to get as many points as possible and set ourselves up for the second half of the season.

"We didn't have the best of starts but we're approaching the business end so hopefully we can get ourselves in a good position.

"Football changes so quickly, particularly at this time of year, and we're looking to kick on and try to get a play-off spot at least.

"My contract's up at the end of the season like a lot of people here so that's in the back of my mind.

"But it's more important that I try to do well in every game because as a professional footballer you have to prove yourself day in, day out."

Stuart McCall will make late checks on doubtful duo Guylain Ndumbu-Nsungu and Peter Thorne.

Omar Daley could be primed to play as a second striker again with Nicky Law available to return in midfield, though whether he slots in on the right or in his more favoured central role will be dictated by the pre-match head count.

McCall said: "We know the position to get the best out of Nicky but sometimes you have to play a system that suits the team as well.

"When he plays central he's more of a threat, as we saw against Dagenham when he got two goals breaking from midfield.

"But it depends on the injuries and we'll have a look at it right up to kick-off to see how we're going to go against them."

Tomorrow's game comes too soon for Alex Rhodes while Mark Bower, just back in training after his chest infection, may be given an extra few days to make a full recovery.

  • City's game at Bury has been rearranged for Tuesday, January 22 at 7.45pm. The match had to be moved because Bury are at Norwich in the FA Cup third round on the day it should have taken place.

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