CLAYTON Donaldson is poised to make his first start in three months as City boss Gary Bowyer rolls the dice.

Fans are still stunned by last night’s news, exclusively revealed online by the Telegraph & Argus, that James Vaughan and Eoin Doyle are both expected to leave the club.

Doyle is expected to re-join Swindon on a permanent deal while Vaughan, City’s top scorer and captain, is set for a loan move to Tranmere.

Neither are likely to be involved against Cheltenham at Valley Parade this evening as Bowyer looks for a much-needed reaction following Saturday’s miserable 3-0 defeat to Mansfield.

But Donaldson is ready to step up after a late subs appearance in that game – his first involvement since rupturing a ligament in his toe in October.

The veteran target man admits he cannot wait to make up for lost time.

“The only way of repairing it was an operation which obviously put a longer time scale on it,” he said.

“It was six weeks of resting and healing before you could start the rehab.

“It’s been very frustrating. To not be able to help the team and watch from the sidelines has been tough.

“Mentally you’ve got to be strong to keep your head right. It’s been a long road but I’ve had a good rehab and coming on those last 15 minutes showed that.”

Donaldson insists City must show a positive mental attitude to conquer Cheltenham – and a potentially prickly Valley Parade crowd.

The Bantams, who have gone five games without a win, will drop out of the play-offs if they lose to the side currently one place behind them.

Donaldson said: “You’ve got to have a strong mindset. If you go in the game worrying about that, you’re more or less defeated already.

“Everyone has got to think positive and hopefully that will see us through. We’ve got a good home record and we need the crowd to help pull us through.

“It’s going to be a difficult game. Cheltenham are a good side and they are doing well this season as well.

“It’s football. You can’t win every game but you have to keep going and keep believing.

“It can change very quickly. You never know what’s round the corner.

“We didn’t perform well on Saturday but luckily we’ve got another game straight away now to put that right.”

Angry fans called for Bowyer to be sacked during the 3-0 loss at Field Mill and there were ugly scenes in the away end.

“I’ve heard those chants so many times and the negativity towards the team or the manager,” said Donaldson. “The fans pay their money so they are entitled to say what they want.

“My feeling is to try and support the lads while we’re playing and voice their concerns, maybe, after the game.

“We’ve got some young players and it can affect them. We need that 12th man to help us through the sticky period.

“Obviously there is going to be upset and unrest around the club with the supporters and even the players. We want to try and do our best for Bradford City and it’s not always the case.

“We’re trying to be realistic about the situation. We’re still in a good position with lots of points to play for.”