Carl McHugh is another convert of the Bradford City mind coach.

The smile is back on the young Irishman’s face after playing in three of the last four games.

With James Meredith facing up to six more weeks out with a broken foot, McHugh has the opportunity to keep that run going.

Left back may not be his preferred position but he will throw himself whole-heartedly into the job, showing the spirit and determination that have been his watchwords since breaking into the picture last term.

Gone are the self doubts from earlier in the season – and that is where John Muranka has worked wonders.

The Cleckheaton-based sports psychologist is a popular stop-off with City players. James Hanson and Luke Oliver have both credited him with reviving the mental side of their game.

Now you can add McHugh to that list for guiding him through a tough spell when he could not get a kick for the first team.

The defender said: “He’s helped me a lot because I was getting really frustrated. I’ve been working with him for the last few months and it’s made a massive difference.

“What he’s done is make sure I go into games in a good state. It suits me better when I’m calm and composed.

“Before that, I was trying too hard in training or in practice games. I was just forcing it and that’s not me. I’d just make mistakes and give fouls away and get in wrong positions.

“It’s been the longest period in my career when I haven’t really played. Last season, I started getting in the team around October and when I was younger I’ve always played.

“You miss playing football so much. It’s such a simple thing but it’s what you love doing.”

Phil Parkinson knows exactly what he gets from McHugh. As the manager put it in the wake of the Bristol City draw – “Carlo’s got a heart the size of a dustbin lid”.

With no Meredith, Bristol City concentrated their attacking efforts down McHugh’s flank and he can expect more of the same at Bramall Lane tomorrow. But the youngster is up to the challenge.

“I’ve waited ages to get my chance and it’s great to be back out on the pitch,” he said. “Mez has been one of the main players for the last 18 months, so it’s a massive blow. But I’ll give it my best and hopefully I can kick on and get a few more appearances.

“It toughens you up being out of the team and makes you more grateful when you do get the opportunity again. Training only does so much for you. Every footballer wants to be playing in that game on a Saturday.

“It was the same when I was eight or nine and that hasn’t changed now. But the staff have been good, encouraging me to keep working hard so that I’m ready when called upon.

“It’s been a positive few weeks for me and I keep telling myself that there are a lot of games left. There is plenty to play for.

“We’ve had a bad run but we’re still in a decent position even after that. We just need to kick on everyone together.

“We’ve been unlucky in some games when we should have won. Once we get that first win, hopefully that will start us going again.”