ANTHONY O’Connor has called on City not to just rely on Jack Payne for inspiration.

Teams are starting to clamp down on the on-loan Huddersfield Town playmaker, who has been such a key figure in David Hopkin’s plans.

Fleetwood effectively kept flair players Payne and David Ball out of the game at Valley Parade last week.

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As City face Plymouth in another crucial home clash this afternoon, O’Connor insists the rest must share the load and create other problems for opponents to deal with.

“You can see what they are trying to do,” said the City captain. “They are trying to nullify our attacking players, such as David Ball and Jack Payne.

“Keep them quiet and you keep Bradford City quiet, that seems to be the thinking.

“It is important everyone on the pitch chips in with a bit of creativity. If it is not going for Payney, someone else has to step up.

“We have seen Lewis O’Brien do it - he has scored a few goals. Bally has done the same, including the last-minute winner against Shrewsbury.

“You see all over the league that different teams try to stop certain players. That is when they can become vulnerable.

“I always look at Wycombe. People try and stop (Adebayo) Akinfenwa but they concentrate so much on him that others can exploit the space he helps create.

“It is a bit of that we need. If teams try to mark Payney or Bally, let’s step up to the mark and do our bit for the team.”

City aim to bounce back from their first loss in four games, which dropped them to second from bottom in the congested League One relegation fight.

There were boos afterwards but O’Connor stressed that the club’s plight has still improved compared with earlier in the season.

He added: “The league position means people sometimes can’t see the bigger picture. The form from November has been good.

“We have won a lot of games, picked up a lot of results. The thing is we were seven or eight points adrift before that run started.

“We have had to work really hard to pull it back. We have done well to get in this position but now we have to push on.

“The key is not to be satisfied just to pull it back. We have to now pull away from the rest of the group.”

Plymouth have won five out of eight since Boxing Day to move four points clear of the drop zone. The former Argyle defender sees their progress as proof of what he hopes City can achieve.

O’Connor said: “Earlier in the season, confidence was really low and we were wondering where the next win would come from.

“The mentality of the group has changed and that is down to the manager and the staff. There is a winning mentality now.

“Plymouth have shown what can happen. A couple of results change everything.

“When you look at the table and see your name above that line, it gives you a bit of confidence. A win against Plymouth may take us out.

“I don’t look at the other teams too much. You want people dragged in but the main thing is ourselves - nobody will do us any favours.

“Plymouth will be a different test to Fleetwood. They will try and get the ball down and play.

“I have played with a few of their lads so know what they are like. It has the makings of a good game.”