ADAM Chicksen's mental strength convinced Stuart McCall to throw him straight back into the City fray.

The left back donned a protective mask to play in Saturday's win over Bristol Rovers – his first appearance since fracturing a cheek bone on the opening day of the season.

It was four weeks on from the injury but Chicksen had only returned to full training a couple of days before. Yet McCall was confident that he would stand up to the test of the televised encounter.

The City boss said: "Chicks had a really strong game, considering he had been out for four weeks. He was positive and whipped some really good balls in.

"But he never gave me any impression he was uncomfortable about wearing the mask.

"I spoke to (fitness coach) Chris Short and asked if there were any doubts in the physio room. I wanted to know if Chicks had said anything to suggest he might have been worried.

"But there was never any negativity. He was very positive about it and that allowed me to be positive in the team selection."

McCall had made up his mind a week ago to bring Chicksen back after his replacement Tom Field limped off in the latter stages of the 3-3 draw at Walsall.

The on-loan Brentford full back was suffering from serious cramp rather than a calf strain and recovered in time to feature in the squad. But McCall never had any doubts that Chicksen was ready to step up.

He said: "After the Walsall game, it looked as though Tom would be out for at least ten days.

"The plan then was always for Chicks to be back on Thursday and joining in with his mask.

"He actually came back last Tuesday to training. It was non-contact but he was in and about it.

"It was a good session and all the players enjoyed it. You could see he was happy to be back involved.

"Tom's injury just turned out to be muscle fatigue and he was available in the end. But I'd really decided on Tuesday, when we weren't sure about him, to go with Chicks.

"Obviously it was important with his peace of mind. If he'd had any doubts in himself, we wouldn't have played him. But he trained very well and was totally ready to be involved again."

Signed as the successor to James Meredith, Chicksen had an up-and-down pre-season before the horrific injury suffered in an aerial clash with Blackpool opponent Oliver Turton less than 15 minutes into his debut.

But his focus was purely on sampling the buzz of Valley Parade again as early as possible.

McCall said: "When I spoke to Chicks the day after, all he could talk about was how much he'd loved the atmosphere on his debut.

"It wasn't the injury, it was just how much he wanted to be out there and he couldn't get back quick enough.

"I thought he did fantastically to come straight back in and play as well as he did. I'm really pleased for him."

City will name a mainly youthful side for their opening reserve game this afternoon at Doncaster.

New keeper Lukas Raeder is not featuring because McCall wants him to be involved in a strong training session with the senior squad.

The Bantams boss said: "It will be mainly the development lads – Lachy (Lachlan Barr), Luke Hendrie, Jordan Gibson, Ellis Hudson and Tyrell (Robinson) will be back in."