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Will Atkinson out to prove he's the right man for Bradford City
Will Atkinson believes he can be the right winger that Phil Parkinson has been looking for.
City’s search for a wideman to complement Kyel Reid next season has been well chronicled.
Garry Thompson is one candidate, though these days he more often plays as a striker, and Anthony McNamee hopes his trial could lead to something more.
Atkinson may be viewed more as a midfield back-up.
But he is determined to use pre-season to throw his own hat into the ring for the wide job.
He is confident of burying a difficult loan spell firmly in the past – and solving the solution for the manager.
Atkinson said: “You’ll have to ask the gaffer if he sees me as a squad player.
“But me personally, I think I can get in that starting line-up for the beginning of the season and keep the shirt.
“I’m quite comfortable on either side of midfield or even in the centre but I’ve probably played most of my football on the right. That’s my main position.
“And if I can show the manager that I’m capable of playing there, I can sort that problem for him. That will be my aim.”
Parkinson kept faith by giving Atkinson the one-year deal he had promised when he first came in from Hull in January.
The 23-year-old admitted it has been a frustrating period but is ready to move on in a “massive” season for both himself and the club.
“I’ve had many a conversation with the manager to try and work out why I wasn’t performing like I know I can do.
“It was hard coming into a team that wasn’t firing on all cylinders and maybe I wasn’t as fit as I could have been with my time not playing at Hull.
“But I went away in the summer and got myself in good shape. It’s a clean slate now.
“This is such a big year and I’m looking to start afresh and push on. Hopefully with a good pre-season under my belt I can hit the ground running.”
Atkinson sees City’s week in Ireland as a key to that process.
While the travelling fans are enjoying the chance of a break with a couple of football games thrown in, the players have been getting down to business at their Enfield retreat just outside Dublin. Apart from a shopping break to the capital on Wednesday, it has been a demanding routine.
Atkinson said: “It’s no holiday. Yesterday was the first sunny day we’ve had and we’re certainly not over here just to have a laugh.
“It’s hard work – you get up, eat, train, sleep and that’s your routine. But it’s also good to be around the boys all the time and get to know what everyone’s about.
“You mix in while the hard work continues.
“You need to get that base fitness now and then you build up the match practice in friendlies.
“The players all know the expectation surrounding next season. It’s a challenge you should look forward to and we’re confident in the ability in the squad.
“We know there’s the potential to do well. But potential is a dangerous word and it’s time to deliver.
“You need to make a good start to build that winning mentality and then hopefully everything snowballs. All the preparation for that starts now.”