LEE Novak may be thrown back in ahead of schedule in City’s desperate bid to stop the rot.

The striker is continuing his recovery from a calf tear that has kept him out for the last 10 games.

But Stuart McCall will spend the next two days deciding whether he feels Novak could be among the subs against Carlisle on Saturday.

McCall was down to the “bare bones” in Tuesday’s loss to Cheltenham – the fourth defeat on the bounce.

Gareth Evans might be back for the weekend but Billy Clarke is unlikely to be ready.

So the City boss admits he may turn to Novak, who has not played since October 24, for a cameo appearance from the bench.

McCall said: “Novak is doing everything he can to be involved as soon as possible. He’s working like a Trojan at the training ground as they all are.

“Everyone wants to help because they know we are going through a tough time at the minute.

“They also realise as well that we should be stronger with a few bodies back in.

He’s pushing and I’d love him to be on the bench on Saturday. We’ll have to see what today and tomorrow bring.

“If he’s working that hard he can do 20-30 minutes of intense work on the training ground, he can maybe come on and do that.

“We’ve not got a midweek game next week. But it would be a gamble.”

City have won just once in the league since Novak was injured and have slipped to within a point of the League Two relegation zone.

Mansfield jumped above them last night with a surprise win at Cambridge - and the Bantams were only kept out of the bottom two by Walsall's stoppage-time equaliser that denied Stevenage.

Injuries and players just coming back present a constant juggling act for McCall as he looks for a break in the demanding schedule.

"It is massively challenging, I have got to be honest,” he added.

"I was up on Monday night thinking of ways we could play against Cheltenham, not to just sit in and defend the box but to try and carry a threat.

"You go around the lads on a Saturday and then you get a text on Sunday night saying three players are struggling and then they come in on Monday and they are out of the team.

"It is hard to balance everything. I don't think any club in the league has had the rotten run of luck that we have had with injuries.

"It makes it really difficult when you want to play a certain way. A few of the lads need to get up and running.

"We get one or two back and then lose a few. At the moment, we are all ok after Cheltenham but I won't hold my breath - it will be fingers crossed."

McCall expects Clarke to be out for “seven to 10 days” with a slight calf tear but is more optimistic about Evans, who has featured just four times since re-joining the Bantams.

The City boss said: "I would like to think Evo would be possible for Saturday.

"He has been stop-start. Levi Sutton has been stop-start with injuries and suspensions.

"I would have started Evo up front, I would have had Novak and (Kurtis) Guthrie. All the forwards I had the first game of the season, Novak, Guthrie and Clarke, are all out."

City are also monitoring Bryce Hosannah, who came off on Tuesday after picking up a knock in the collision with Cheltenham keeper Josh Griffiths when he nearly scored.