MARK Bower admits Bradford (Park Avenue) are missing some of those senior figures that allowed them to punch above their weight in National League North for several years.

But he is confident the likes of George Sykes-Kenworthy, Lucas Odunston and Harrison Hopper can grow into those roles, as they deal with the transition from talented players to leaders.

Relegated last season, Avenue have made a poor start in the Northern Premier League Premier Division, just two points above the relegation zone, with their last game an ugly 3-0 home defeat to Hyde United.

Bower admits Avenue need a win from their Saturday-Monday double header, which sees them visit Worksop Town before hosting Whitby Town, both of whom are riding high after reaching the FA Cup first round.

Asked what was going wrong, given many of the current squad have proved themselves in the league above, Bower said: "Quite a few of the lads that played for us last year too, like George, Lucas, Harrison, Mitch Lund and Simon Richman, have done okay.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Lucas Odunston (left) continues to impress Mark Bower with his performances, but can he now become a real leader?Lucas Odunston (left) continues to impress Mark Bower with his performances, but can he now become a real leader? (Image: John Rhodes.)

"Will Longbottom has struggled with his knee, we've lost Jamie Spencer for the season and Jordan Preston has needed to time to get back to where he was before his bad injury.

"We've struggled to get a settled side, which hasn't helped.

"But for the likes of Harrison, George and Lucas, who've done well at the level above, they've not often, if ever, been a senior player.

"They've had a few experiences this season they've not had before, but hopefully they can learn from those setbacks."

Bower feels those older, wiser heads in the side can have an impact, saying: "We've got good players, and lads who are capable of doing well.

"But if you see those better teams, they have those experienced players.

"We've lost the likes of Ryan Toulson, Adam Nowakowski, Nicky Clee and Mark Ross over the last couple of years and not really replaced them.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Hard-tackling Mark Ross is someone Avenue could always rely on.Hard-tackling Mark Ross is someone Avenue could always rely on. (Image: John Rhodes.)

"They played for us on low wages but gave us real experience and helped those younger lads.

"We're a bit short on that at the moment and this is a ruthless business.

"Hopefully some of these lads we have now can step up in adversity and become leaders.

"We had a team meeting on Tuesday where everyone gave their thoughts and some of the younger players really expressed themselves, which was good to see."

Avenue's fans need to see that talk backed up on the pitch, and it will not be easy to end their long winless run at Worksop, who have 16 points from nine games, and have reached the FA Cup and FA Trophy first round.

Bower does not expect Town to be distracted by their cup exploits, saying: "They're looking to have a go at getting into the league above, and they're well-equipped for that.

"They've brought in proven National League players, and have real experience and strength in depth.

"It'll be a tough game, and I'd rather be in their position of fighting on three fronts.

"They're confident and settled but I'm confident our lads can give anyone a game on their day.

"If we do the the basics well we can ride out this spell.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Avenue's defeat to Workington last month was a low point, but they were riding high just before that.Avenue's defeat to Workington last month was a low point, but they were riding high just before that. (Image: John Rhodes.)

"It was only three or four weeks ago we'd lost one game in eight inside 90 minutes, so things can change and we need them to, to change our season.

"Whitby are a strong, physical side, who've had some good results, but things can change for them, like they could for us, especially if we stand up to that physical test.

"We've generally done okay in our Monday home games over the last few years too, and it's a long way for them to travel, but we'll certainly respect Whitby, like we do all the teams in this league."

Avenue have another Monday night league game coming next month too, after their clash at home to Marine was moved to November 13.

The game had been originally pencilled in for last weekend, and then moved to October 30, but it has had to be moved again due to Marine's continued participation in the FA Trophy.