WINTER is coming – and nobody wants to be frozen out of the League One promotion race.

We have now entered the thick of the season; the months when every point has to be scrapped for.

As the weather and pitches turn, it is the period that generally sorts out the fighters from the fancy-dans.

The corresponding Saturday last year saw City thump Rochdale 4-0 at Valley Parade – their biggest margin of victory of the season.

Yet Stuart McCall's men won only one of their next seven games up to New Year's Day and drew all four December outings. Expect no gimmes at this stage.

It is an uncompromising environment as the Bantams build up for back-to-back meetings with the teams currently bottom and top of the table.

"Every game gets tougher now," said midfielder Timothee Dieng ahead of tomorrow's home clash with Plymouth.

"The conditions are more difficult with the pitch and the weather. You have to battle more in games and we have to show that we can fight to win them.

"Obviously as a player you prefer it when the surface is nice and it's sunny – but I don't mind playing in bad conditions.

"I know what you have to do when it is like that. You have to work even harder for results, especially in League One. Winter is tough but I know every player here can do the dirty job as well."

Dieng needs no reminder about what the weather can throw at you over the winter period. Two years playing for Oldham have left him battle-hardened to the elements.

But he admits his chilliest afternoon was at Valley Parade – when City beat the Latics 1-0 in January 2016.

He said: "It is okay in Oldham in August at the start of the season and then again at the end. But the middle part can be very cold.

"But I remember in my second season with Oldham, the coldest game was when we came to Bradford. That game was absolutely freezing, the pitch was very difficult and it was tough to play.

"In France it obviously gets cold as well but we stop for a few weeks. It's the same in Germany.

"I think, as a foreign player, that is the biggest change, not having the winter break.

"That is the difference to here. There is no rest at all in England because you are always playing.

"The season gets even busier at the time when the pitches are getting more difficult. That is why you have to fight harder in every game to try to get the win."

Dieng wore the captain's armband in midweek as one of the senior City players in the Checkatrade Trophy tie against Rotherham.

But he was taken off before the end of the 3-0 defeat as a precaution after feeling his hamstring starting to tighten.

City have been monitoring the Frenchman's situation but McCall does not have to take any chances with Jake Reeves returning to the frame.

Reeves missed the FA Cup first round with a slight groin injury that McCall put down to fatigue.

The former Wimbledon man played every minute for them last season and has been a league ever-present in City's engine room so far.

Tony McMahon is back after serving his one-game ban against Chesterfield and Tom Field is available again at left back.