IT’S a common response parroted by footballers up and down the land.

“I’ll play wherever the gaffer wants. As long as I’m in the team, I’m happy.”

And who would say anything different? It’s not wise to grumble publicly about where your employer sees fit to put you.

So, Callum Cooke went on record talking about the “quarterback” role that he had been handed by Gary Bowyer at City.

Bowyer identified Cooke’s range of passing and felt it would be put to best use from a deeper position at the base of midfield.

It was new to a player previously more accustomed to trying to burst into the opposing box than protecting his own.

And Cooke demonstrated enough there to emerge as one of the better performers in City’s underwhelming return to League Two.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Callum Cooke celebrates a goal against Grimsby, although it was later credited to Lee NovakCallum Cooke celebrates a goal against Grimsby, although it was later credited to Lee Novak

Deep down, he wanted to throw off the shackles – something that he could finally do when Stuart McCall arrived.

McCall’s first game back against Grimsby saw City line up in a no-strings 4-4-2 with Harry Pritchard and Dylan Connolly either side of central duo Cooke and Jake Reeves.

The manager’s message was clear – get up there whenever you can.

“I told Cookie that I wanted him and Reevesy to be box to box,” said McCall. “I didn’t particularly want one just to sit.

“It’s how it was with Greg Abbott and me in our days back in the ‘80s. You were just an all-round midfielder, you got forward and back.

“You speak to young lads now and ask them where they play and they’ll tell you, ‘I’m an eight or a four or a DCM’. But it doesn’t matter what numbers you are.

“Cookie went out and got a goal, although I know it hit Novs (Lee Novak) on the way in, and then Reevesy scored the next week at Cambridge.”

I see him more as one playing further forward and Callum does as well.

McCall wants his midfield to go out and play and contribute more to the team going forward. It’s how he has always done it.

Cooke fits the bill as one who can make things happen rather than just stifle the opposition.

He added: “He’d been doing a job for Gary as the midfield anchor last season.

“I can understand why Gary did it because he was the best passer in the team at the time and has got a lovely range.

“But I see him more as one playing further forward and Callum does as well.

“I remember the chat we had when I first came in when he said that was what he likes doing.

“He was a midfielder who enjoyed going forward, getting assists and getting beyond the strikers.

“The way we’re going to set out to play, that’s the type I’m after.”

McCall reviewed Cooke’s earlier career to see the proof. He watched games with him playing for Middlesbrough’s under-23s as well as for Blackpool, Peterborough and Crewe.

“Even when he was at Blackpool, his goal record may not have been great but he’s in the box, he’s hitting the bar and the keeper.

“He got four in 18 games at Crewe and I know they were interested as well.

“I don’t see him as a number 10 as such but as an attacking midfielder who can get up and down. I don’t want him to be the one that sits.”

A chat with Cooke last week before any deal to bring him back to Valley Parade had been finalised reinforced McCall’s feeling that here was a player desperate to be let loose again.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Gary Bowyer used Callum Cooke in a more defensive role in midfieldGary Bowyer used Callum Cooke in a more defensive role in midfield

“He was saying all the things I wanted to hear even without knowing exactly what I was looking for,” added the City boss.

“If he had been happy just to be the anchor or holding midfielder then we probably wouldn’t have gone back in for him. That wasn’t why I was looking for.

“If I’m honest, I admit I didn’t know too much about Callum. But I had a good talk with his agent and learned more about him.

“He obviously went away with England in the youths and he scored goals certainly in his career as a young lad at Middlesbrough. That’s what Callum enjoyed and wants to be doing.

“He fits what we are after with his characteristics, his personality and desire and he can also handle the ball. He’s a good footballer and he fits exactly how we want to play.”