GARY Bowyer insists City will continue to throw an arm round long-term absentee Jake Reeves in their quest to get him back on the pitch.

The midfielder, who underwent groin surgery last April, has not featured for 15 months when Stuart McCall was still in charge.

Bowyer is the fourth Valley Parade boss since then – but is certainly not giving up on the 25-year-old being involved again.

READ MORE: Bantams in dark over Reeves return

“He’s been making some progress out on the field in terms of running,” said Bowyer. “He had a little bit of a setback last week but hopefully nothing too drastic.

“It’s tough for the kid because he wants to play and we’ve had a conversation about that.

“I remember him playing and how I want to play would suit his style as a footballer.

“We played Bradford at the start of last season with Blackpool and identified that a lot of the play would go through Reevesy.

“It’s frustrating for him to see that himself. But we’ve got to continue to support him and keep encouraging him.

“Hopefully then he can find a solution to it and get a real good pre-season behind him and go from there.”

Reeves, who has played 26 times since his £150,000 move from Wimbledon in 2017, still has one more season on his City contract.

Bowyer would love him to be part of the plans in his squad overhaul for next term but appreciates that the player’s wellbeing remains the priority right now.

He added: “First and foremost, it’s about Jake because it’s so, so tough being injured.

“You get all kinds of different feelings and emotions. It’s the hardest thing about being a professional footballer.

“I went through it when I played and had a back operation that went wrong. I ended up being out a hell of a lot longer than what I should have been.

“It ended up something like six or seven months rather than six weeks. It’s a lonely place.

“Unless you’ve experienced that, it is difficult to understand.

“So, Jake needs to know that we are supporting him, not just from a professional football point of view but also with his state of mind.

“They can be lonely days when you’re injured, not just being in the club but when you’re away from it as well.

“It’s tough on him and his family, because they are the ones who see him every day when he goes home from work. He’s probably fed up and frustrated with it all.

“We’ve got to make sure we keep his spirits up and keep with him.”