Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting TANEWS to 80360, or email
Bradford City: Ritchie Jones itching to kick off his season
Ritchie Jones ends his injury exile in City’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy trip to Hartlepool tonight admitting: It’s been doing my head in.
The central midfielder is one of the expected changes as Phil Parkinson shuffles his pack to face the League One strugglers in the second round.
Jones has not kicked a ball so far. He pulled a hamstring in a friendly at Guiseley and then damaged ankle ligaments in training the day before the opening game of the season.
He said: “I’ve not played one minute yet, not even in the reserves. I had one and a half pre-season games and that’s it.
“I came back for one day and then rolled my ankle. There wasn’t anyone near me when I went over it.
“I’m desperate to get back and I’ve even looked forward to training. I’ve watched too many games now and it’s been doing my head in!
"It’s been a long wait and I’m really excited. I’ve been back three to four weeks now and I can’t wait to get some minutes.”
City reached the northern semi-finals – or last-eight stage – of the much-derided competition last season. Having already been given a bye, Jones sees no reason they cannot go far once again.
He added: “It’s a good cup because there is a genuine chance for lower league clubs to get to Wembley.
“We’re still doing well in the Capital One Cup but this one is just for League One and League Two clubs and I don’t see why we can’t get all the way.”
To prevent fielding a weakened side, JPT rules state clubs must field six of their 11 top appearance makers or six of the side that started the previous games.
Parkinson was studying the variables on the coach back from Dagenham but intends to rotate his side – as City have done effectively in the Capital One Cup.
He said: “We’ve got a whole list of players like Stephen Darby, Ritchie Jones, Carl McHugh and Alan Connell who need to play.
“I can understand why this rule is there but the ones we feel need a game will get a chance.
“I’ve always respected this competition and got to the area final a couple of times as Colchester manager. Last year we did really well here.
“But like I said with the Capital One Cup, sometimes the best way to progress in this competition is to put fresh legs in. You put in players with a point to prove and, certainly after watching Saturday, we’ve got lads who will be thinking they deserve to be in this team.”
Parkinson admitted City were “hurt” by the 4-3 loss at Dagenham but could not fault the fightback which almost salvaged a point.
“We’re annoyed because we switched off mentally and physically for one half and got punished. But once again we had more shots on target than any team in the bottom three divisions.”
Hartlepool are second from bottom with only one victory. But Parkinson, who watched a potential loan target yesterday, added: “As much as it is the JPT, we know they will be looking for a win and a really good performance.”