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Bradford City: Don’t mention the Arsenal game!
Phil Parkinson has a simple message for his players as City’s marathon campaign gathers pace – keep calm and stay professional.
The Bantams will play their 30th game of the season and their second of eight in December when promotion rivals Torquay United head to Valley Parade tomorrow.
The clash comes just three days before Arsenal are in town for the Capital One Cup quarter-final showdown – City’s biggest game for over a decade.
Yet Parkinson is refusing to even discuss the Gunners clash until Monday and will send his men into battle tomorrow reiterating that promotion remains his priority.
City remain alive in all four competitions after Tuesday’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy win at Port Vale but Parkinson said: “As a group we haven’t spoken about the Arsenal game at all.
“We will do that on Monday but we’ve got a big game before that in Torquay at home, which in my eyes is bigger than the Arsenal game.
There are selection dilemmas, definitely, because everyone who has been given a chance has taken itPhil Parkinson
“This weekend is massive, it really is, but we will just keep calm and approach it in the same way we have all the other games.
“That means being professional, organised and playing with commitment and desire to win the game.”
Torquay lie in eighth spot, just one point and two places below City, and Parkinson is wary of their threat.
He added: “We’ve got to respect Torquay because they’re a team who’ve been up there for the last two years.
“We’re striving to be where they have been in the past two years and better.
“It would be a good scalp for us if we could beat them this weekend.
“Confidence is high and there is a lot of belief in the squad.
“We’re enjoying it and I think you’ve got to enjoy it when you’re winning games.
“We’re pleased but we’re only right at the beginning of what is a very hectic period for us.
“I think we’re an extremely fit team and we’re coping well.”
Parkinson has a number of selection dilemmas to ponder, not least between the posts, where Jon McLaughlin enjoyed an outstanding match on his return to the side at Vale Park.
First-choice goalkeeper Matt Duke could earn an instant recall after a sustained run of impressive form and Parkinson said: “It’s a good problem to have but the two keepers are driving each other on and you see it every day in training.
“Jon’s performance on Tuesday was born out of Dukey’s displays before that because he knows that to stay in the team he’s going to have to do it over a period of time.
“Dukey has done that but we’ll sit down as a staff, discuss Torquay and then pick the team accordingly.
“I said to the lads on Tuesday that it is about the squad – we will achieve nothing this year with 11 players.
“It will require everybody making a contribution and at times some people are going to be disappointed because everyone wants to play every week.
“But they’ve got to understand that at certain times we’re going to leave people out of the side.”
James Meredith, Rory McArdle and Will Atkinson were all rested in midweek and key men Duke, Gary Jones, Nahki Wells, James Hanson and Nathan Doyle were on the bench.
Parkinson is set to recall a number of his big guns and he acknowledged: “There are selection dilemmas, definitely, because everyone who has been given a chance has taken it.
“But that’s what I’m paid for – to make those decisions and hopefully I can make the right ones to win this game.”
Zavon Hines and Kyel Reid are also edging closer towards full fitness after injury and will come back into contention heading into the hectic festive period.
“Both lads are training and are chomping at the bit to be involved,” added Parkinson.
“They will be good additions to what is already a strong squad.”
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