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Bradford City: Utility player Will Atkinson makes his position clear
Will Atkinson is fast becoming City’s jack of all trades but he’s not sure if that’s a good thing or not.
The midfielder has appeared in every game so far this season and caught the eye in last week’s draw at Accrington.
Atkinson joined with a reputation of being able to slot in any role across the midfield. Having featured mainly on the wing while on loan last season, he has been more of a middle man this time around to cover the absence of Ricky Ravenhill and Ritchie Jones.
That versatility is something that attracted Phil Parkinson in the first place.
But being seen as a utility player rather than as a specialist can be its own downfall.
Atkinson said: “I’ve always been quite versatile but that’s almost been one of my failings that I haven’t knuckled down in one set position.
“You can fill in different areas but sometimes that means you’re not in one regular spot.
“But I’m enjoying my role at the moment. I’m quite comfortable playing in the centre of midfield and you tend to get a little bit more of the ball.”
It also makes it easier to have someone with the vast experience of former Rochdale team-mate Gary Jones at his side.
“I obviously know what he’s all about from my time at Rochdale. He’s a great player and works his socks off every game.
“It’s a massive help to have someone like him in there. But we’ve also got that competition all over for places and that keeps pushing everyone forward.”
City have the chance to make up ground on the leading pack with successive home games. Atkinson can sense there is a real determination to do themselves justice at Valley Parade this season.
He added: “It’s a big advantage having so many followers and a big stadium to play at when you get all the fans behind you.
“If we can carry on the form we’ve shown at home already, it can be a fortress for us.
“Home form is going to be crucial because it takes the pressure off when you’re away.
“I’ve played here as an away player and you do look forward to it. But we have that advantage of so many fans being on our side, which does make a difference.”
City scored eight goals in the two meetings with Barnet last season. The 4-0 romp at Underhill in February also saw Atkinson net his only goal so far for the club.
Given Barnet’s poor start, the bookies will have tomorrow marked up as a home banker. But Atkinson knows the unpredictability of the division.
He said: “Any side can beat anyone else on their day. You’ve got to turn up each week and make sure you do your job right for the team.
“You’re not going to play well every week and you cannot always guarantee the passing and technical side of the game will be right. But you can still run hard and put the effort in.
“If we give it our all, I know we’re more than capable of beating whoever we’re facing.
“It’s been a fresh start, it’s a new squad and I think we’ve shown our intentions. We’ve beaten teams in higher divisions than us in the cup and the home form has been good.”