JOE Riley is determined to force his way into the City picture when football is finally allowed to come back.

The defender had missed the entire season up until last month’s suspension with a serious knee injury he suffered just before the start.

Riley tore a cruciate ligament after slipping during a training match in the final week of pre-season.

But he had been making good progress before the lockdown was brought in and Stuart McCall believes he could be ready to join in with the squad once they are allowed back – whenever that may be.

McCall said: “Joe is at the stage that, when we do start back, medically he should be okay.

“But like anyone who is coming back from a long-term injury, he’ll probably have to do a week with the physios. He can’t come straight to us because we’ll be trying to get up to speed as quickly as we can.

“Having said that, we just don’t know when it’s going to be.

“Joe is quite a determined lad. I sat with him and Zeli (Ismail) at the Bradford sports awards recently and we had a good chat.

“He’s a strong character and wants to give it his best shot to get back and have a crack. We’ll just have to see.”

Riley had been working with first team physio Dayle Avison before training was shut down just over three weeks ago.

But he had finished the treatment stage of his rehab, leaving him to carry on the strengthening work for his knee from home.

“Fortunately he was at the point where he was no longer getting any treatment,” added McCall.

“He’s had his own strengthening exercises that you can do at home, like building up your quads around the knee.

“That happened to me, so I know you can do that away from the treatment room.

“I’m sure when we eventually get back, he will be at the stage where he would have been ready to join in training with us anyway.

“It’s obviously just building up the contact from then.

“Before we came away, I think he had been out on the grass for a few weeks. He’d been doing ball stuff with Jermaine Anderson and Kurtis Guthrie at times.

“Injury-wise, he will be getting the green light to step it up and join in.

“Obviously, that will have to be tapered to what we’re actually doing.

“But who knows? It could be another month, two months, even three months, nobody can say for sure at this moment what our plans will be.”

The former Manchester United reserves captain has had a tough time since joining the Bantams in the summer of 2018.

He started just six games in his first season and was not part of the squad after October, as David Hopkin looked to move him on, with the likes of Josh Wright.

Riley got himself back in the reckoning with Gary Bowyer after a couple of eye-catching performances in friendlies before the injury.

He is one of a number of City players whose contracts are up at the end of June - another issue that is still being discussed by the football heads with the plans to extend the season.