HARRY Pritchard grew accustomed to playing in front of swathes of empty seats at Blackpool.

The stand-off between the supporters and reviled previous owner Karl Oyston left many voting with their feet and boycotting home games.

The group games of the Leasing.com Trophy, the fresh moniker of the EFL’s competition for lower divisions, are often staged in front of similarly cavernous arenas. Attendances tend to be in the one man and his dog bracket – that’s if Fido hasn’t got a better offer.

But that won’t be the case at the University of Bolton stadium tonight.

While not quite matching up to the record 84,000 at Wembley that witnessed Portsmouth beat Sunderland in last season’s final, the audience figure is likely to dwarf the rest of the midweek matches.

It will be Bolton’s first home game since the change of ownership that saved the club from following the slippery slope of doomed neighbours Bury. So, the fans are likely to turn out in their numbers.

Pritchard, who will surely get his first start in a City shirt, is excited by the prospect.

“It will probably be the highest attendance for a Checkatrade (sic) game that there’s ever been at this stage,” he said.

“With all that’s happened at Bolton and all the fans coming back to welcome the new owners, I’m sure it will be a pretty good atmosphere.

“It does feel a bit weird playing in a big stadium with not many people in. It’s a bit of a strange feeling.

“So hopefully there will be loads of fans, we’ll bring a few and we can put on a show.”

Pritchard is getting his bearings now after a hectic few days which saw him make his Bantams debut before he had even trained with them.

“I got a call on Bank Holiday Monday to say there was interest in me,” he added. “I then spoke to the Blackpool manager and we agreed it was best for me to go out and play some games.

“I knew I wanted to go straight away. The deal didn’t get done until after training on Friday so I couldn’t get involved, which was a bit frustrating.

“It was good to play straight away but a disappointing result. But we’ve got a fresh week now to bounce back and hopefully get some wins.”

Gary Bowyer plucked Pritchard from non-league Maidenhead United in the summer of 2018 after a National League campaign that saw him net 16 goals from the wing.

But within two months of arriving at Blackpool, Bowyer had moved on. It meant the 26-year-old having to prove himself to replacement boss Terry McPhillips – something he felt he did by playing 40 games.

“It was a bit strange when Gary went but these things happen in football and you’ve just got to deal with it.

“I still had a good season and obviously did enough to impress him to re-sign me for Bradford.

“I was probably in the same boat as a few others that he brought in. It was obviously quite a new-look Blackpool squad.

“We had to impress again but the assistant manager stepped up and did a good job.

“It was a good first year in professional football for me. I jumped up a couple of leagues but thought I settled in quite well.

“Playing with better players makes you up your game. You raise your own standards and try to make sure you keep them high every day in training.”

Pritchard is comfortable on either wing but tended to play more centrally for Blackpool – a role he is just as happy to fill. He sees his versatility as a useful asset for the squad.

“I used to play left back as well when I first started men’s football,” he said.

“It’s good to be versatile because I can fill in at any position that the team needs.

“Gary sees me coming in as a wide player or a wing-back or whatever formation they decide to play.

“He knows I can play inside as well – it was actually Gary who put me into the central midfield role at Blackpool. So, I’m sure he can trust me to play those roles if need be.”

And Pritchard is keen to make amends for the one that got away against Crewe, a big chance that went begging from Kelvin Mellor’s cross.

“I just thought 'if it hits me, it’s in.'

“But I tried to head it down and misjudged the flight of the ball, so it hit the top of my head rather than my forehead and sailed over the bar.

“I’m frustrated with that still but I’m sure I’ll get a chance to rectify it.”