Phil Parkinson will send his Wembley-hungry City players back into the league fray with the challenge: Show me why you should play in the cup final.
The Bantams boss admits it will be impossible to get his team to banish any thoughts about next month’s Capital One showdown with Swansea. So instead he will use the February 24 showpiece as the perfect incentive to revive the promotion bid.
Tomorrow’s planned home clash with Wycombe fell victim to the weather but there are still a run of crucial League Two matches before Wembley. They will also all double as dress rehearsals to earn a coveted starting role for the biggest date in the club’s recent history.
Parkinson said: “People talk about keeping your minds on the league and not letting the cup distract us. But there are places up for grabs.
“You can only be honest in the selection and that’s what we’ll continue to do.
“We’ve got to play well and obviously we pick the team based on how people are playing.
“Of course there’s going to be an element of people talking to us about Wembley. We’re not going to hide away from that.
“It’s going to be impossible and I would be foolish to expect that to happen.”
"What we’ve achieved and the media spotlight is quite remarkable. All the back pages have been dominated by Bradford City.
“But we’re going to do our best to focus on what the next few weeks bring.”
As City try to return to reality following their Villa Park heroics, Parkinson praised the way that everyone has handled their new-found fame.
“We don’t like any pretentiousness or people being over the top. I’m probably as proud of the way the lads have conducted themselves as the performance itself.
“Everyone at the club has been grounded. It’s important you conduct yourselves well in the spotlight and it reflects what we’re all about.
“What we have done is testament to honesty and hard work. It’s almost like a throwback.
“In the days of players earning fortunes, we’ve got a team of lads on short-term contracts, not on great salaries, but prepared to run, chase, tackle and fight for every ball.
“They’ve been like that since day one of pre-season and I think it’s refreshing. The whole of football has found that watching our performances against Premier League teams.”
James Hanson has become a reluctant national celebrity after his goal. Parkinson has been thrilled to see the striker’s name in lights but feels the contribution of those not directly involved on Tuesday is just as worthy of praise. He said: “James typifies what we’re about. With a lot of strikers I’ve worked with in the past, everything has got to revolve around them but he’s not like that.
“At the other end of the spectrum, Gary Jones is symptomatic of the team and inspires people around him.
“But equally the ones who didn’t start on Tuesday did their part. As we’ve said all along this season, different people have stepped up to grab the headlines.
“It could be Kyel Reid, Alan Connell, Ricky Ravenhill, Blair Turgott, Ritchie Jones, Garry Thompson – by rights any one of those could have been involved.
“Those players could be the headlines in the league games coming up – or even the final at Wembley. There are players who are very unfortunate not to be in the team and they have to be ready.
“We notice everything and one of the big things I saw on Tuesday was the way those lads who didn’t start all responded terrifically well. It was as if they had played.
“That’s important to us and the lads who were out there appreciate that. Our team is very close and lots could play.
“It was a really tough game the other night. When those flags were waving before kick-off and the atmosphere was building, I knew it would be a real test.”