Tom Penford is hoping a good Easter will give him the edge in the annual Russian Roulette battle to win a new City contract.

The 23-year-old midfielder is used to scrapping for a fresh deal at this stage of the season. But two strong displays against Rotherham and Chesterfield should have strengthened his hand to show Stuart McCall he is worth another go.

Penford said: "It's getting a bit repetitive having the same situation every year and my aim is to try and break that mould.

"That's been the story of my career and hopefully now it's turned and I believe it has.

"I was really chuffed to start Monday's game because I knew the gaffer was going to make changes. I didn't want to give him any excuses to drop me and I thought it was a big pat on the back to get my chance again."

With eight games to go, Penford knows there is no room for error and has no intention of letting his performance level drop.

"You've got to apply yourself properly all the time, not just in games but in the training as well. But it's a major incentive for me.

"The boss wants to see what the players are made of before he plans for next year and that's fair enough. If he gives out contracts now, it's going to be a bad end to the season for all the players and the fans."

McCall has noticed an improvement in Penford after two heart-to-heart chats earlier in the campaign.

The City boss said: "Tom didn't really perform at a good level in pre-season and that set him back in my thinking.

"But he showed a really good attitude in training and I noticed a little spark which gave him that bit of confidence. He came to see me at Christmas time and I said that if he knuckled down the chance would come and I'm pleased he has taken it.

"Lads like Tom are dedicated to the job; he's a good professional and a good footballer. Now it's up to him to keep that consistency between now and the end of the season."

But Penford is not looking further than Saturday's trip to fourth-placed Darlington.

He added: "My eye is on Darl-ington and then it will be the next one after that.

"I'm not looking to say I'll play in all eight games because I know that anything can happen. I've done it before, thinking that I was in the plans, and then something has gone wrong and I find myself back at square one again.

"But hopefully, with the same gaffer in charge next year, I can come back in and build on the platform of a new contract rather than having to prove myself all over again."

  • City cannot appeal against Omar Daley's red card at Rotherham. Protests with the FA must be lodged within 24 hours of the offence taking place.

Daley, who plays for Jamaica against Trinidad tonight along with Bantams goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, has already missed one of his automatic three-match ban.