James Hanson reckons the tough times have helped mould him into a striker now feared by League Two defences.

Boss Phil Parkinson rates City’s attacking combo of Hanson and Nahki Wells among the best in the division.

As he tries to beef up the squad for a serious push next term, Parkinson would not swap his front two.

Both have attracted jealous looks from rivals hoping to prise them away from Valley Parade.

Hanson top-scored with 14 goals last term, his highest tally in three years as a professional.

He bounced back to form from the previous campaign when he failed to hit double figures and seemed to be struck down by ‘second-season syndrome’ as defenders wised up to him.

Hanson, currently halfway through a four-year contract, believes his game has come on leaps and bounds since then.

But he admits the low periods when he did struggle – and came in for stick from some sections of the crowd – have formed an important part of his learning curve.

The former shop worker said: “I scored 13 goals in my first year at Bradford but I definitely learned more from the time after that when it didn’t go so well.

“During my second season and the beginning of the last one was tough. I had to fight the adversity when the team wasn’t playing well.

“I had to get my head down and try to work through it. I found it quite hard but it has definitely improved me as a player. Looking back, I think coming through that is paying off for me now.”

Hanson’s fitness is no longer questioned by his critics. He looked leaner last term and followed Parkinson’s advice to chase down and harry opponents into making mistakes.

“If I’m fit, running round and able to challenge everyone, then that helps me have a good game,” he said.

“The gaffer has one-to-ones with me and outlines what I’ve got to do to play well. I can’t give defenders any free headers or time on the ball.

“If I can do that all the time then my game falls into place and the goals come.

“The second year was bad for everyone at the club. I did a lot of weights in that summer and it killed me from a fitness point of view.

“I’ve learned from that and I know the key thing for me is to be fit. I feel I can chase every ball and that makes me better as a centre forward.”