CITY arranged an in-house game before heading into their free weekend.

Graham Alexander had hoped to play a private match against another club to fill the void from not being involved in the FA Cup second round.

But the intended opposition pulled out – leaving the Bantams boss to set up a competitive session within the squad yesterday.

“It’s a shame we couldn’t get a game but it’s difficult on a Friday during a busy football programme,” said Alexander.

“With the games programme that all clubs have, it’s difficult to marry up with everyone else.

“We just did an in-house game with the whole squad.

“The lads who hadn’t played had a bit of an 11 v 11 on Thursday against the youth team.

“The other lads trained again yesterday and we had another one. We did the best we could.

“It was on the 4g so there are a couple of players who can’t play on that unfortunately.

“But the players have worked exceptionally hard the last two days and have all been pushing each other. They’ve got the bit between the teeth.”

With the large squad that he has inherited, the challenge for Alexander has been to build up match minutes in the players who haven’t been featuring in the first team.

“Our training is quite intensive anyway but nothing replicates a match.

“If you can get an 11 v 11 on a full pitch, even if it’s for only 30 minutes, you’re still adding on to their fitness levels and they get an idea about shape and what we want from it.

“It’s still beneficial but I think the lads who haven’t been playing regularly have missed playing football. I know I would.”

City have been given a fitness programme for today as part of their weekend off to prepare for Tuesday’s Bristol Street Motors Trophy tie against Liverpool under-21s.

Alexander added: “We emphasised everyone has to do the right things over the weekend.

“We’ve got a game Tuesday which we obviously want to win.

“It’s another opportunity to get the kit on and the boots and give it our best shot.

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“The players trained yesterday to show me they wanted to play on Tuesday, which was great.”

The spare Saturday gives City the chance to recharge batteries approaching the most hectic part of the season.

“There’s a physical element from when you’re playing away and the travelling. I think a couple of the lads didn’t get to bed until 6am (after the Forest Green game) because of the journey.

“That’s going to hit you a little bit.

“We are coming into an extremely busy period over Christmas. I think we’ve got four games in eight days in that period so we’re trying to get everyone up to speed as much as possible.

“There’s no way we’ll be able to maintain the same 11 for four games in eight days. We’re going to need 16-17 players able to play 90 minutes.

“We’ll try and use this period now to get them ready for that. But we’ve also got to focus on Tuesday’s game.

“It’s a game we want to win so we have to make sure we’re not looking too far ahead.”