GARY Bowyer will continue to drip-feed Callum Cooke into his City plans.

The midfielder came off the bench in the second half at Cheltenham – his fifth sub appearance.

Cooke is still waiting for his first start since signing on a season-long loan from Peterborough.

But like Zeli Ismail and Shay McCartan, Bowyer refuses to rush them into full action until he feels they are ready to cope.

The City boss said: “We need to have that patience to understand those lads are still in their pre-season in terms of minutes.

“But they are getting strong and fitter and they aren’t very far off now being able to go in there.

“What we couldn’t be doing is putting all of them in the same team (at the same time) and not being able to take them off if they blow up.

“We’ve managed it, they are getting there.

“They totally understand the situation and know exactly where they are at. They aren’t daft.”

Ismail came on at the same time as Cooke when City were chasing the game and showed flashes. But Bowyer was slightly disappointed with the winger.

“I wanted more from him, to be honest,” he admitted. “But we know exactly what he’s capable of doing.

“The more minutes he gets, the better it is for us. He is getting closer and closer now.”

Bowyer also rested Paudie O’Connor as he brought back Anthony O’Connor at centre half.

“Paudie’s not had many games or minutes either. We just felt we had to look after him a little bit rather than bringing him straight in playing Saturday and Tuesday.”

Bowyer also made a change in centre midfield, recalling Jermaine Anderson over Danny Devine to partner Matty Palmer.

Anderson scored the opening goal before making way for Cooke after 70 minutes.

“We just felt that Jermaine would give us a bit more legs in there than Danny and get forward,” added Bowyer. “That proved the case when he scored his goal.”

The Bantams boss hopes the poor defending in Tuesday’s 3-2 loss was a one-off as they build towards Saturday’s home clash with Carlisle.

Bowyer was scathing at his side for giving away “stupid” fouls and failing to deal with the set-piece that set up Cheltenham’s winner.

“It was a hell of a ball in and the boy (Chris) Hussey has done it for years.

“But you don’t give them an easy option to put the ball in your box – and you’ve got to defend that better.

“I think it was a blip. We can’t be sulking and have got to dust ourselves down again."