PHIL Parkinson believes his current crop is the best squad he has assembled during his time as City boss.

Parkinson took the reins at Valley Parade in August 2011 and has presided over a steady renaissance which has included a promotion and a League Cup final appearance in 2013.

Last season saw the Bantams reach the FA Cup quarter-finals and finish seventh in League One – one spot below the play-off places.

City are currently in that same position after 17 games despite several major injury setbacks to key players.

Parkinson is hoping his side’s rich run of form can continue in tonight’s FA Cup first-round replay at home to Aldershot.

He said: “This is a strong squad and I think the amount of injuries we’ve had, especially to the attacking players, would have affected anybody.

“When Billy Clarke got injured, it knocked everybody because the lads know what a key player he is for the team.

“Fortunately for us, there was a silver lining in that we were able to sign Devante Cole, who in fairness to him, hit the ground running when we really needed it.

“When Steve Davies comes back from injury, we’ve got a real selection at the top of the pitch which is good to have.

“Is this my strongest squad as Bradford City manager? I think it probably is.

“If you look at the other squads we’ve had, I don’t think we would have been able to cope this time last year with the four or five key injuries we’ve had.

“If everyone was fit, then yes it’s the strongest squad but we’re without at least two players (Paul Anderson and Filipe Morais) for the rest of the season.

“We’ve had a lot to contend with, but we’re coming through the other side of that now.”

Chris Routis is fully fit after coming off the bench against Crewe and Josh Morris is also pushing to be involved tonight.

But on-loan West Ham defender Reece Burke is nursing a minor knee problem and is likely to miss out.

Clarke has started ahead of Cole in the past two games and Parkinson has a dilemma over who should get the nod against Aldershot.

He said: “It’s a tough call because Devante has scored five goals in 11 starts.

“We started Clarkey against Crewe after looking at his game against Aldershot.

“It’s good to have these options and what’s important is that we make the right call for this game because I don’t think we can afford another poor 45 minutes like we did down there.

“If we do, then I think we will find ourselves out of the competition.

“We knew Aldershot were a good side and we said that because we had watched them.

“Obviously they raised their game against us, which we expected, and they have had a dip in their following games.

“That sometimes happens because they really ran themselves into the ground against us, and it’s almost as if they have been saving themselves for this return fixture.

“We’ve got to be ready and I’ll be stressing to the lads that we can’t afford anybody who goes into the game not at 100 per cent in terms of their commitment levels.

“We know the prize which awaits the winners (a home tie against non-league Chesham United) but what we’ve got to do is get there is the key and that’s what we’ll be focusing on.

“We’re just concentrating on each game as they come but we’re confident at the moment.

“We’ve got to maintain those confidence levels by putting in the performances and concentrate purely on tonight’s game.

“From there we will move on to the next league game – it’s as simple as that because you can’t really look too far ahead in football.

“You’ve got to pour all your energy into the next game and that’s what we’ll be doing. There is a good feeling among the lads right now.”

James Meredith, meanwhile featured for Australia again yesterday as the Socceroos beat Bangladesh 4-0 in a World Cup qualifier in Dhaka.

Former Everton star Tim Cahill scored a hat-trick and Crystal Palace midfielder Mile Jedinak was also on target during the opening 45 minutes.

Meredith played for almost an hour before being replaced by Huddersfield defender Jason Davidson.