FORMER City prospect Connor Shanks wants to kickstart his career at Bradford (Park Avenue) after a turbulent few years in the game.

The 22-year-old, from Halifax, came through the academies of both Huddersfield and the Bantams, going on to make three appearances for the latter under Stuart McCall in the EFL Trophy.

He left Valley Parade in the summer of 2021 after being released, rejoining Huddersfield but failing to make a single first-team appearance for the Terriers.

Shanks had brief loan spells at Nuneaton and Boston in the 2021/22 campaign, while a permanent transfer to Spennymoor in January 2023 did not really work out, as he quickly became “a bit-part player”.

But he looked bright in his nine games on loan at Avenue last season from the Moors, and having now left the North-East to return to his native West Yorkshire, he admits he was always keen to call Horsfall home this season.

Shanks, a natural attacking midfielder, who can also play box to box or on the left wing, told the T&A: “I really enjoyed it when I came here last season.

“The results weren’t there but all the lads and the staff were brilliant.

“The club’s really local to me, which has been a big factor, and speaking to the gaffer (Danny Whitaker) and (sporting director) Tom McStravick, with the plans they’ve got for this season, I wanted to be a part of that.

“It was always my first choice to come back here.”

After being relegated twice in a row, Avenue are now in the eighth-tier Northern Premier League East Division, the lowest level Shanks has played at in his career.

But he hopes to rise back up from here, saying: “The last two seasons I was at Spennymoor in National League North, but I was just a bit-part player, playing every now and then.

“I was getting a bit fed up of that, so I wanted to come here.

“The aim for me is to climb the leagues with Bradford (Park Avenue) and that’s the aim of the whole club.

“We need to have a really strong year this season and build a squad that can push for promotion.”

After signing a deal with Avenue until the end of the 2024/25 season, Shanks finally has the chance to spend a whole season at one club as a first-team regular.

And he admitted: “This is what I need, a full season of playing week in, week out.

“You don’t improve as a footballer if you’re not playing, so the aim is to help the team out every week.

“The club can’t be at the level it's at at the minute, so we need to go up this season.

“We need to build a strong base from the start of the year if we’re going to do that.”

Shanks would undoubtedly have loved to become a regular at City, but even that brief experience he had with the first team in 2020 meant a lot to him.

Connor Shanks playing for City against Wolves' Under-21s in the 2020-21 EFL Trophy.Connor Shanks playing for City against Wolves' Under-21s in the 2020/21 EFL Trophy. (Image: Thomas Gadd.)

He recalled: “It was brilliant.

“I was a lot younger then, and you think you’re a lot wiser than you actually are at that age.

I’ve learnt a hell of a lot being at Bradford, then Huddersfield after that, and the levels you need to be at to succeed.

“I didn’t think I was a million miles off, but a few injuries didn’t help, so now I need a full season under my belt to really start enjoying my football again.”

Shanks is confident of bouncing back from that difficult spell at Spennymoor, having already dealt with being released by the Bantams aged just 19.

He bears no grudge against City though, saying: “I’d say I was a little unlucky to be released in 2021, but it’s not something I’d hold against anyone.

“That’s football at the end of the day and you’ve just got to bounce back.

“I’ve had a lot of setbacks, quite a few injuries, but that’s part of football.

“You always have to look forward, there’s no point looking back.”

That being said, Shanks wants to take the lessons he learned at Huddersfield and City into his time at Avenue.

He said: “The professionalism side of things there I can bring here.

“I think you learn about being a leader too and I want to be a proper leader at Avenue this season.

“Although I am only 22, I have learned a hell of a lot and to achieve anything, you’ve got to put everything in and do everything right during the season.

“You’ve got to train how you play and that’s definitely the approach the squad will be taking this season.

“When you’re at professional clubs, you see how hard the players work at everything, so I took a lot from seeing that attitude.”