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Clock ticking for Bradford City loan recruitment
Phil Parkinson is chasing a right back to swell City’s flagging defensive numbers.
The Bantams boss will decide today whether James Meredith and Zavon Hines need scans on the latest injuries to hit the squad.
But the clock is ticking on signing any reinforcements, with the loan deadline less than a week away. After that, clubs cannot make any more additions until the January transfer window.
Carl McHugh is set to step into Meredith’s shoes at left back against Exeter tomorrow, with John Egan returning at centre half.
Parkinson, though, believes the right side of the back four is the priority area to fill. Stephen Darby has been playing with discomfort from his hip and, with Rory McArdle back in the middle, they are short of cover.
The City chief dismissed a report that he was in for Southampton rookie Matt Young but could have a recruit signed up by the weekend.
He said: “There’s a possibility (of one coming in). We’ve made a few phone calls and we’re waiting for a response from managers and players.
“The window closes next Thursday and after that we’re pretty much stuck if we haven’t got the players in.
“It’s the right back situation that is more cause for concern at this particular stage.”
Meredith and Darby, to a lesser extent, are both suffering with hip flexer problems – a symptom of playing so much football in such a congested period.
City have tried to rotate their squad through the non-stop fixture list but Parkinson admitted it is a very difficult balancing act.
He said: “Meredith and Darby are injuries purely down to tired bodies. It’s something we’re obviously aware of and we are trying to measure out how many games people have played.
“Doyley (Nathan Doyle) had played more than anyone of late so we decided to give him a rest (on Tuesday) and Rory McArdle had a problem with his back against Northampton (away). He probably could have played but we gave him a breather.
“Meredith was probably the one who was ready for a rest next. He has been outstanding but maybe the time was right to put him out the firing line.
“It’s the same with Stephen. He missed a bit early on but has played every minute of every game recently.”
Parkinson reckons City’s limited numbers have engendered a powerful belief within the squad as they rumble on in four competitions. Morale is high for the back-to-back home games with Exeter and Plymouth after the midweek FA Cup drama.
He said: “We said this year that everyone in the squad has a chance to play. If you do that, it fosters a spirit in the camp.
“There’s nobody round the training ground who hasn’t got a focus. Everyone’s seen that they are in contention for a place and we’re not scared of playing them.
“We’ve got two good home games coming up and you can imagine the mood in the dressing room is very positive.
“We’ve got to keep cementing our place in the top seven. Each time we get points on the board it keeps us in there.”
Exeter’s 12-goal top scorer Jamie Cureton poses the biggest danger and Parkinson knows him well. They were team-mates for three years at Reading and the City boss then signed him for Colchester.
He said: “Curo’s a good player who has always scored goals. He’s not a big target man or got electric pace but he anticipates things well.
“It will be a good test for our centre backs to concentrate for the full 90 minutes against him. To be playing at 37 deserves credit because that takes some doing.”
Exeter chief Paul Tisdale is tipping City to stay among the League Two front-runners as he predicts his side’s toughest challenge so far.
Tisdale said: “Phil has been there long enough to have made his stamp on the team. You can see that they are going to be strong and effective.
“I imagine they will be a contender for promotion. I will be surprised if they are not there at the end of the season.”
Fans paying full price tomorrow are reminded to keep their match ticket stubs as Arsenal vouchers. From Wednesday, they can buy a Capital One Cup ticket for every voucher – subject to availability.