THE next six weeks are pivotal for City’s survival chances, according to David Hopkin.

Southend’s visit to Valley Parade kicks off a run of seven games where the Bantams will be eyeing a healthy points return in their fight to stay up.

Before the trip to leaders on Portsmouth on March 2, City take on four sides in mid-table and three around them in League One’s lower reaches.

It is a potentially crucial spell in the season – and Hopkin has stressed that they must look to make it count.

He said: “These are games where we have to take points – and other teams will be saying the same.

“This period coming up is massive. The next seven games will probably define where we end up in the league.

“It’s very tight. If we can win to get to 30 points then we can look to haul these teams in – maybe up to 12th or 13th now.

“It’s so important we take as many points as we can in these games against teams in and around.”

Southend are currently sat in 12th spot with an eight-point advantage on the Bantams, who are aiming to shake off last week’s 3-0 loss at Barnsley with a fifth home win on the bounce.

Hopkin added: “We need to make sure we are fully focused and I’m sure we’ll bounce back from the defeat.

“It’s going to be hard now to push on. We can’t rest because we had a December when we won a few games.

“We need to win a few games every month between now and the end of the season to make sure we’re still in League One.”

Luca Colville is returning to full training but will not be ready in time to return. City are also having to ease Hope Akpan back to fitness – leaving them stretched in central midfield since Jim O’Brien’s exit.

“Hope’s been struggling with niggles for the last few months since I’ve been here,” said Hopkin.

“Every time he comes back, he maybe plays one game and then breaks down again.

“We need to make sure he’s got a couple of weeks training in him before he starts a game.”

Kelvin Mellor’s rehab is also stepping up but he remains unavailable to the Bantams boss for a few more weeks.

“Kelvin is out doing straight line running, which is a good sign.

“But obviously it’s when you start kicking a ball with your ligament and twisting and turning. That will be the test.

“He’s working really hard with everything he’s doing in the gym. Kelvin is a great professional.”