DANNY Whitaker has been left a little frustrated in his attempts to bolster his thin squad at Bradford (Park Avenue), admitting players have been stopped from joining him at Horsfall by their clubs.

Key men like Mitch Lund and Will Longbottom are out injured, while several members of the current squad are nursing minor knocks after the 3-0 Boxing Day defeat at Radcliffe in the Northern Premier League Premier Division which left Avenue four points off safety.

Fortunately, Avenue boss Whitaker does not expect any of those with little niggles to miss out on the New Year’s Day league derby at home to Guiseley, but a Thursday training session that was down on numbers only highlighted the problems he has.

It is unlikely to get much easier in the short-term, with Whitaker explaining: “We’re missing some players in key areas, and the likes of Mitch and Will are really big misses for us.

I’d been hoping to bring a few more lads in, but it’s proving difficult at this time of year.

“I’ve spoken to a few opposition managers and they’ve all basically told me they’ll look at their squad situation again in the New Year.

“I’ve spoken to players too, who’ve told me they’re interested joining us, but they’ve said their clubs want to wait until January before they consider selling.

“We need bodies in, and that will help us, but hopefully we can get at least one new face in for the Guiseley game.”

Whitaker insists he and his players go into the derby with a degree of confidence, despite both of his first two games in charge ending in 3-0 defeats.

He said: “Radcliffe away was always going to be tough, with them being the leaders, but I’ve already seen loads of positives since I came in.

“I watched the lads before I took charge in their 4-3 win at Macclesfield and in the first 54 minutes at home to Bamber Bridge last Saturday I thought we were excellent.

“The lads performed really well, they worked hard, and they stuck to and delivered our game plan, which wasn’t easy because we switched up the formation a bit to what they were used to.

“But then we switched off at a vital moment, Bamber Bridge put a good cross in, they scored and suddenly it was 1-0.

“We’re working with the lads to try and make sure they all concentrate at all times, because ideally we don’t want anyone to switch off, or at the very least, if someone does, there’s someone else on the team to help them out.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Avenue were playing well until early in the second half against Bamber Bridge, but a sloppy goal cost them, and they were second-best thereafter.Avenue were playing well until early in the second half against Bamber Bridge, but a sloppy goal cost them, and they were second-best thereafter. (Image: Martin Taylor.)

Concentration will be key if struggling Avenue are to get anything from their huge derby at home to play-off chasing Guiseley on New Year’s Day.

Whitaker and his side are certainly up for the game though, and he said: “We can’t wait for it.

All games are important for us now given where we are in the table and we’re mindful we need to try and win all of them, not just this one.

“But a derby brings a different dimension and it’s a game the fans see differently to other ones, rightly so.

“The players will go into it like that too, and all the teams in this league are beatable, it just depends who turns up on the day.

“We’re full of confidence, despite the two 3-0 defeats, and we know we can’t feel sorry for ourselves, we just need to keep on building this season for the future.”