MARK Bower admits Jordan Preston is showing ‘glimpses’ of what he is capable of, but he knows the Bradford (Park Avenue) forward has ‘a way to go’ before he is back to full fitness.

Preston’s goals looked like they might keep Avenue in National League North last season, but a dreadful hamstring injury at the end of January kept him out for the rest of the campaign, and Avenue were relegated on the final day.

Manager Bower is sure Preston can make up for lost time now he is able to play again, but he said: “Jordan was coming back in pre-season and getting minutes on the pitch, but then he suffered a calf injury that set him back.

We’re just getting him back up to speed but he’s showing glimpses of what he’s capable of, even if he has a way to go until he’s back to full fitness.

“He’s on the right track, he’s been improving for the last three or four weeks now and there’s loads more to come from him.

“We’re pleased with his progress and know he’ll play a bigger part for us as the season goes on.”

Someone who might play less of a part is the experienced Mark Ross.

The full-back rejoined the club ahead of last weekend’s 2-0 Northern Premier League Premier Division defeat at FC United of Manchester, a game in which Bower admitted his side were below-par, as their five-match unbeaten run in all competitions came to an end.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Mark Ross (second left) gets stuck in at FC United last Saturday.Mark Ross (second left) gets stuck in at FC United last Saturday. (Image: John Rhodes.)

There was no blame attached to Ross though, and Bower said: “Mark looked as fit as anyone on the pitch despite the fact he’s not been playing, which is credit to him.

“He won’t be available every week, but with us having Lucas Odunston and Harrison Hopper suspended, and Mitch Lund having to play in the centre of defence with Luca Havern still recovering from the gash to his head, we had no cover at right-back.

“We needed Rossy to step in for us and he was great.

“I’m sure we can utilise him during the season when he’s needed and when he’s available.”

Odunston’s ban has ended, and he should slot straight back in at right-back when Avenue visit former National League North rivals Blyth Spartans in the FA Cup second qualifying round tomorrow.

Bower said: “Everyone came through the FC United game okay and we’re pleased to have Lucas back as he’s been very good this season.

“Blyth dominate possession and can cause problems in attack, so to have someone as good as Lucas is in one v one defensive situations is a boost for us.”

Blyth almost went down with Avenue last season but have made an early charge into the play-off spots this time around.

Bower said: “They’ve brought players in that have improved their side but that league is so tight, anyone can go on good or bad runs.

“We respect them and know they can pull anyone apart on their day, like they did to Farsley the other week.

“But we’ve had a good record up there in the past and we’re not far off the side we had last year.

“It’ll be a big step up from the first qualifying round game at Consett, and with that being on 3G like our pitch, we still haven’t had a win on grass yet this season.

“We’ve also gone out of the FA Cup in the North-East the last couple of seasons, but we have to forget the past now.

“And if you take FC United out of the equation, we’ve been doing okay the past few weeks.”