REECE Staunton’s injury may force City’s hand to avoid a potential defensive crisis.

Stuart McCall is waiting for the verdict on the severity of the teenager’s ankle problem he suffered at Forest Green.

McCall has already lost centre halves Anthony O’Connor and Paudie O’Connor for next weekend’s Valley Parade clash with Stevenage after both were sent off.

He fears that Staunton could also be facing a spell on the sidelines.

That would leave the Bantams boss critically short of options at the back and ready to extend his recruitment search to add a central defender to his current targets for another striker and right back.

Ben Richards-Everton did not travel at the weekend as a precaution after complaining of a sore throat.

But he is expected to return to training today and will come straight back into the mix.

Richards-Everton was subbed at half-time when City were thrashed by Lincoln in the Carabao Cup last week and has been pushed down the pecking order by the emergence of Staunton.

Tyler French and rookies Jorge Sikora and Finn Cousin-Dawson are the only other choices available.

McCall said: “It’s something to look at over the next couple of days. We won’t know the situation with Reece until the swelling has gone down.

“We heard a crack when it happened. It’s the bone on top of his ankle.

“But the encouraging thing was that he didn’t limp when he walked off the pitch at the end, so we’re hoping it’s not as bad as we thought.

“That will certainly be a blow for us if we lose him.

“Ben might have been on the bench if we’d been at home. But travelling down on the bus with a sore throat and sniffles wouldn’t have been the right thing to do.”

City had avoided any real injury issues since coming back for pre-season. But the potential loss of Staunton on the back of the double suspension could not have happened at a worse time.

The club had announced a new long-term contract for the teenager ahead of Saturday’s game and Connor Wood sees that as a fitting reward for how he has stepped up so quickly.

Wood said: “Credit to Reece for the way he’s come in this season. He’s stepped into the team and put in some very good performances so far.

“Hopefully the injury isn’t too serious and he’ll be back out on the pitch as soon as possible. He’s been a great addition to the team.

“I’d never played first-team football when I first came here but he is a couple of years younger than I was then. You can see his confidence building week in, week out.

“A four-year contract speaks volumes of the potential he has and how good a player he is. He’s got plenty of time to build on and let’s hope he’ll be back quickly.”

City were denied a first league win of the season when Forest Green equalised in the sixth minute of added time to force a 2-2 draw.

“The last half hour felt like a game of attack against defence,” admitted Wood. “We were defending the whole time.

“On my side, they had the right mid, the right back and centre mid running off me. We’d probably have taken a draw when we went down to nine but it’s still hard to take.”