CITY may have to grind their way out of relegation trouble, David Hopkin has warned.

This afternoon’s Valley Parade meeting with Oxford is a crucial one for the Bantams as they try to whittle down the gap to safety from its current seven points.

The division’s bottom club also face big games with Plymouth, Scunthorpe and Rochdale by the end of the year before Hopkin can get his teeth into the planned squad makeover in the January transfer window.

With a crowd approaching 20,000 expected today with City's £1 admission offer, the onus is on the hosts to claim only their second home win of the season.

But Hopkin - who yesterday boosted his ranks with the capture of experienced midfielder Karl Henry on a short-term deal - has stressed his side must take a pragmatic approach to have the best chance of survival.

He said: “We need to focus and concentrate and make sure between now and Christmas that we are very hard to beat.

“You’ve seen that in the last few games. We’ve stopped conceding so many because we do have midfield players back now.

“You’ve got to look at where we are in the league. Maybe earlier on we were going out trying to win games and being hit on the counter-attack.

“The players are learning and it’s the biggest thing the Bradford fans are going to have to get used to.

“We have to be that wee bit harder to break down and they have to be patient, especially at home.

“If it’s still 0-0, they are really passionate and want you to attack all the time. But sometimes you are susceptible because most teams are going to come here and try and sit and hit you on the counter.”

City have not kept a clean sheet for 11 games since their last league win at Wimbledon. They have also scored more than one goal only twice this season.

Hopkin believes patience from supporters is crucial if the Bantams are to inch themselves off the foot of League One. Last week’s battling result at Peterborough, which ended a run of six straight defeats, drew them level on points with the Dons.

He added: “We have to make sure we stay in games as long as we can. We do have players who can score goals.

“The fitness levels are getting better, we’re organised now.

“Getting Paul Caddis in has given us that bit of extra cover. We have been struggling with players to play on that (right) side of the pitch.

“We went with a back three at Peterborough and with Adam Chicksen and Caddis playing, we had five experienced players as well as an experienced goalkeeper.

“With that, the players in front now know they can do a wee bit more.

“We need to be difficult to beat because of where we are in the league.

“These things will probably need to stay the same until January or wherever – until we get away from this situation. Everybody needs to be patient and stick with it.

“I thought the fans at Peterborough were fantastic and we went there and did a professional job. That’s what we’re going to have to do between now and Christmas.”

Meanwhile, former City full back Stephen Darby is set to be in attendance at the game with Oxford this afternoon.