CITY remain confident that in-demand Shay McCartan will play his part in their pursuit of a top-six finish.

League Two leaders Luton and his former employers Accrington were thought to be among nine clubs who enquired about the Irish forward during the transfer window. The Bantams also rejected two "firm" bids for the player.

McCartan has struggled to nail down a regular slot since his £200,000 summer arrival from Stanley, starting only 11 times so far.

He scored in both of the back-to-back wins against Oxford and Fleetwood over the New Year weekend and netted the late goal against Bury in the last home game.

Yet he did not come off the bench in City's first two outings under new boss Simon Grayson.

Despite a tricky start at Valley Parade, McCartan's talents have been recognised by other clubs and head of recruitment Greg Abbott has revealed the heavy amount of interest they received last month.

Abbott told the club's fans' forum this week: "Shay was our most sought-after player. I've never experienced that (amount of interest) in my life.

"Shay has actually admitted he has found the club massive and, at times, he's found the support really difficult to deal with.

"But he's a player you have to persevere with and give him a bit more time than others.

"We could have got rid of him to other clubs for football reasons time and time again.

"If we had got the striker we needed, we probably would have let him out to get some game time. He needs the minutes on the pitch.

"But we still feel he's got a part to play. Everybody who's working with him agrees that."

Chairman Edin Rahic believes the criticism of McCartan by some City fans has been unfair and compares his slow start at the club to when Nahki Wells first arrived.

Rahic said: "People told me that Nahki Wells was brilliant – but how did he start at Bradford City? I heard he was terrible in the beginning.

"It took time for him to adapt and I think you have to give Shay McCartan the same because he is a very good player. It can take time to see the confident player we expected."

Abbott believes the Valley Parade crowd can do their bit to bring the best out of the 23-year-old forward, who scored 11 goals last season.

He said: "There's a player in there. He's a Northern Ireland international and there's a lot of interest.

"People saw what he did last year. He hasn't been able to reproduce that at the minute but it's there.

"We've got to find a way of getting it out. If it takes a little bit longer, then that's the case.

"Sometimes we're guilty of wanting instant results. Some transfers don't work.

"Everton have got a player who cost £27million (Turkish international Cenk Tosun) but Sam Allardyce says it's too early for him. It can happen at every level. We've got to persevere.

"If it doesn't work out then it's one that we tried and thought was an exciting one. But at the moment we'll give him every support to produce what we know he is capable of."