JAKE Young is eager to make a new start at City and finally show the fans what he is all about.

The Bantams rejected January bids from Carlisle and two other clubs after recalling the striker from his Swindon loan last season.

Young’s return to Valley Parade then came to a sudden end with a hamstring operation that ruled him for the final three months.

But he is fit and firing again in pre-season and keen to make his mark at last for the Bantams – two years after signing.

“Pre-season is a level playing field and everyone gets the chance to prove themselves,” he said. “I’m treating it like that.

“I’ve been working throughout the summer and I feel sharp. I’m only going to get fitter and I’m looking forward to the games getting started.

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“It’s something of a fresh start for me at the club and I want to do what I came here to do. I can’t wait to get going.”

Graham Alexander views Young and Alex Pattison as “new signings” after both spent so long out of action.

After his problems with Mark Hughes, Young knows how keen the City boss has been to get him on board.

One of Alexander’s first tasks after taking over was to bring him back from Swindon.

Young added: “I was aware that was a possibility and knew about the clause in the contract.

“I just kept my head down and the gaffer also wanted to be respectful to Swindon.

“That helped me because there wasn’t all that noise around and I could focus on my next game and contribute to the team I was at.

“We had a couple of chats and I came back but it wasn’t ongoing in the background for a couple of months.

“I had a good run of form in November and that probably allowed me to do that.

“If there was more noise and the manager was speaking about me and talking about January, that wouldn’t have helped.

“I appreciate he did that and I’m sure Swindon do too.”

Jake Young twice won League Two player of the monthJake Young twice won League Two player of the month (Image: EFL)

Young’s Valley Parade comeback was greeted with constant speculation about his future following his 16-goal first half of the season.

He didn’t play for three weeks because of a niggling injury which just added to the rumour mill.

But Young himself insisted he was not distracted by all the stories.

“That comes with doing well,” he said. “It’s a small price to pay having your name in the papers.

“At least they were the right headlines as opposed to the wrong ones that were being written in pre-season.

“I wasn’t aware of too much. I came back and did have a little niggle that carried over from Swindon.

“It wasn’t major but I didn’t want to come back and play for the manager and not be able to give him everything.

“We had to manage that and getting used to a change in environment, change in training, different loads and you’ve got to be careful.

“I was working with the physio and sports science to look after that.

“But in terms of the off-the-field stuff, it doesn’t really affect me.

“I’ve always said that I’m focused on where I’m at. I don’t take notice of it unless it gets that far down the line that there’s a contract in front of you.

“As far as I was aware, I was a Bradford player and just wanted to play football.”

Young eventually made his comeback – ironically against Swindon as a second-half substitute – before earning a starting chance. But an injury in his second one against MK Dons would cut his campaign short.

Why Young decided to go under the knife

“Last season was a rollercoaster. There were some highs I’ve not had for a long time and then you get brought straight back down to earth.

“There was a combination of factors that caused the injury.

“I went from playing 26 games at Swindon to not doing much in January. I came back in towards the end but my load was up and down.

“It was just unfortunate. I was really keen to show what I could do and show the fans I still want to be here.

“It was a good night against Doncaster in the Bristol Street Motors (Trophy) game and I wanted to use that to kick on. But I felt it go against MK.

“I didn’t feel too much pain at the time and played on for the rest of the game.

“But obviously I had the scan and I was gutted. It was more disbelief as well because I wasn’t in too much pain.”

After taking medical advice, Young and the club opted for him to go under the knife – knowing that would be it for the rest of the season.

“I didn’t have to but chose to,” he said. “I spoke to the specialist and it would have been the same length rehab without having it done.

“But I think the re-injury rate was high if I didn’t have the operation. We saw Patto last season and he re-injured himself.

“I didn’t want that to be the case with me. As much as nobody wants to have surgery, it was definitely the best decision.

“The timing was unfortunate. I was absolutely gutted and it took me time to get my head round it.

“It was hard to take, especially when you’ve been having a good season.

“You get all those thoughts in your head. I was even thinking, ‘why couldn’t it happen last year when I hadn’t been playing in ages?’ “But that’s football. There are ups and downs and you’re not going to have everything going in a straight line.

“It’s another learning curve in terms of how it could be avoided, going through the rehab process and now I’m more knowledgeable about my body.

“It means now that, touch wood, I can hit the ground in pre-season and feel really confident with it without needing to be held back.”

City won six of the final seven games last season to miss out on a play-off finish by a point.

Jake Young's last goal for City was in September 2022Jake Young's last goal for City was in September 2022 (Image: Tom Pearson)

But Young believes they can take that confidence into the new term – starting with the tasty televised opener at MK Dons on August 10.

“It’s a positive feeling around the club. We finished last season strongly and we want to build that momentum.

“There are a few new faces who can hopefully help us do that.

“I’m just ready to get going and looking forward to that first league game to keep the run going from last season.

“Narrowly missing out on the play-offs was tough but we can take a lot from the performances and the results we did get and hopefully that will give us confidence.

“It’s a fresh season. Everyone is on zero points and if we can play like that for the majority, there’s no reason to believe that we can’t have a good year.

“You’re buzzing for that first game from the minute you’re in for pre-season. All eyes are on that and everyone wants to be on the team sheet.

“To have a big game on TV adds to it. That’s what you’re working for these next six weeks and we’re just itching to get to that date.”