STUART McCall has reminded his City squad that every second counts – whether it's on the pitch or training ground.

Alex Jones is the latest example of that after seizing his opportunity in the FA Cup last week.

After a frustrating first few months of the season, Jones took the chance to lay down a marker – just as McCall hoped he would.

Looking more like his old self, the striker is now in pole position for only his second league start since the opening week as City prepare to host Plymouth tomorrow.

In contrast, his chief rivals to partner Charlie Wyke up front all fluffed their lines in the Checkatrade Trophy.

It might have been a low-key stage – in front of Valley Parade's record smallest crowd for a competitive fixture – but Dominic Poleon, Shay McCartan and Omari Patrick did little to catch McCall's eye.

So in the space of a couple of games, Jones has shot back up the pecking order and aiming to hold on to the starting jersey long term.

McCall said: "Jonesy couldn't have done any more. He'd had a really good session last Tuesday, as he did on the Thursday, and that made our mind up to play him.

"He'd looked sharp just as he did in the game. He went out there and took his chance.

"We've got lots of options both with the personnel and strategically with formations.

"It doesn't matter where you are, whenever you're on that pitch it's a chance to stake your claim for a position in the side.

"It's the same in training or in games, no matter what level of competition. It's up to you."

McCall often repeats the mantra about players on the fringes of the team having a crucial role, whether it's competition on a daily basis or simply encouraging in the dressing room.

He would often mention the efforts behind the scenes from the likes of Rory McArdle, Stephen Darby and Nathan Clarke last season for keeping standards high, even if they weren't involved themselves at the time.

The Bantams boss said: "If you're not involved in the 18, then get yourself in. If you're not in the team, then do what you can to change that. It's down to the players themselves.

"Sometimes the 11 might be playing really well and regardless of how anyone else does, you can't change it. But that's the healthy competition that you need and it reminds everyone that they've got to be on their game at all times.

"I'd rather be struggling to name a team because of people that you're having to leave out, than wondering who to put in because nobody has been showing enough to warrant having the shirt."