Jake Speight will miss the start of City’s season – because he is in prison.

The new striker, signed only a fortnight ago from Mansfield for £25,000, has been jailed for assault.

Speight was handed a 12-week sentence, although he is likely to be released in half that. But he will not be freed in time for the opening game at Shrewsbury.

Shocked boss Peter Taylor was completely unaware of the situation until the player’s agent called on Friday morning to say that Speight was appearing in court.

He had been pencilled in to feature against Eccleshill that night in the Bantams’ first pre-season friendly.

City will not be paying Speight until he comes out of prison and his wages then could be capped until he is considered ready for first-team selection.

Taylor said: “This incident happened in February and Jake and his agent never told anyone that it would go any further. That’s why I didn’t know and Mansfield Town didn’t know.

“I’m very disappointed, obviously, because we were totally unaware this was happening.

“They should have warned me but, to be fair to Jake, his desire to play for Bradford was so strong that he felt he might mess his chances up. He thought he would get a warning and the outcome has been a nightmare for him.

“I should have been told but I do understand a little bit why I wasn’t.”

The 24-year-old striker netted 17 goals in the Blue Square Premier last season. Taylor beat off other League Two interest to sign him as competition up front for James Hanson and Gareth Evans.

Speight had an unsuccessful spell in the league with Bury earlier in his career and sees the move to City as the perfect chance to put him back on the map in the professional game.

Now, after just a week of training, he will face the task of rebuilding trust with his employers and manager.

“I don’t think it means that all of a sudden Bradford City are a bad club or I’m a bad person,” said Taylor.

“It’s a situation that has just cropped up and we’re prepared to deal with it. When Jake does return to the club, I will welcome him back.

“But he obviously won’t get paid at all until he comes out – and then we will definitely take things into account until we get him fit enough to play.”

Taylor is currently running the rule over two free-agent forwards – Matt Tipton and Lee Morris – and he has not ruled out the possibility of adding another trialist this week.