VADAINE Oliver has paid a personal tribute to the team behind the team for getting him back on the pitch.

Oliver saluted the support of City’s physio and fitness staff after eight months out of action.

The big striker has had it tough this year with knee and groin injuries leaving him stuck on the sidelines.

But he topped off the second run-out of his comeback with a first goal since New Year’s Day as the Bantams breezed past Liverpool under-21s in the Bristol Street Motors Trophy.

Oliver was keen to acknowledge the support of those in the backroom who have been with him through the toughest times.

READ MORE: Bantams boss has clearer picture with Vadaine Oliver

“I’ve had a great team behind me,” he said. “The likes of Dayle (Avison), Joe (Gannon), Nick (Akerman), all the physio staff. (Head of performance) Greg (Stebbings) has been excellent as well coming back in and helping me get back to fitness.

“I’ve probably seen them more than my missus. I’ve spent too much time with them, to be honest!

“But I can’t thank them enough, especially Dayle and Greg who have been huge for me this year. Even last year with Chris (Royston), who left us.

“They are who you spend the most time with when you’re out for that lengthy period.

“You are isolated from the boys. They go out to train and you’re on your own so the relationship you build with the staff is key.

“Thankfully they have been a real plus for me in helping to get through this.”

Oliver had a battle mentally to pick himself up again after the pre-season training injury that wrecked his initial comeback.

He went under the knife in April to sort the knee trouble that had dogged his first year at Valley Parade.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Vadaine Oliver celebrates his last league goal with Richie SmallwoodVadaine Oliver celebrates his last league goal with Richie Smallwood (Image: Thomas Gadd)

But having built himself back up to fitness, Oliver suffered another devastating blow in the first week back.

“It was only four days in when I tore my groin off the bone. That was the big blow for me.

“I missed a lot at the back end of last season through having surgery on my knee and then to have that happen was really difficult.

“I was in a bit of a dark place at that point.

“I’d worked so hard with my knee ready to have a real kick-on this year and help the boys. But then it was swept from under me and I had to start all over again.”

Oliver had experience of previous injury lay-offs during his career but the double whammy left him needing that strong backing.

“A lot comes down to the people you’ve got around you,” he added.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Vadaine Oliver posted on Instagram after the gameVadaine Oliver posted on Instagram after the game (Image: @vad91)

“My family, my wife and kids helped because they were a big distraction in that first few weeks, that first month, in getting my mind away from it.

“Then I knew that I’d just got to knuckle down and get on with the task in hand.

“It’s just huge mentally being back out there again. It’s been a hard last eight months and getting more minutes under my belt has been a real plus.

“I ended up playing almost 40 minutes the other night. Mentally I know that I can get through that and now it’s how my body reacts but it should be fine.

“It’s a weird one because I’m still with the physios who say that you can do so much but they don’t want to fully take the reins off – then the gaffer says, ‘yeah, I want him to go a bit’.

“Everyone is a little bit nervous but that’s natural.

“Thankfully I’ve got through another block of work and hopefully it’s on the road to being fully back.”

Oliver had not scored since a double against Salford saw in the year and eagerly gobbled up the rebound when Richie Smallwood’s shot proved too hot for Liverpool keeper Fabian Mrozek.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Keeper Fabian Mrozek is grounded as Vadaine Oliver wheels awayKeeper Fabian Mrozek is grounded as Vadaine Oliver wheels away (Image: Tom Pearson)

“I knew Dicky was going to shoot because he lined it up perfectly," said Oliver, who dedicated the goal to his grandad, who recently passed away.

“With Dicky's quality, he was always going to hit the target so it was all about following it in. The stuff you learn from when you were a kid as an attacker.

“Thankfully the keeper parried it and gave me an easy chance.

“For me, I feel I’m back. It’s been a long time so ticking off these boxes now is huge and mentally knowing I can get through those minutes.

“I’m ready and available for the gaffer whenever selected.

“It’s a very busy schedule. I know I can’t go back-to-back-to-back games now because I’m still coming back.

“But I’m there and available for whatever part I’m needed for.”