Fringe squad justifying Bantams chief’s faith

Ritchie Jones and City are still alive in four competitions.
Ritchie Jones and City are still alive in four competitions.
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PHIL PARKINSON is as delighted by Bradford City’s strength in depth as he is by the fact that his side have a trip to Wembley in their sights.

The Bantams are Yorkshire’s sole survivors in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy after they extended their unbeaten run in three cup competitions with a 2-0 win at Port Vale in the Northern Area quarter-finals.

They achieved it in spite of making five changes for their 29th game of the season on Tuesday. Goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin replaced Matt Duke and Tom Naylor, Carl McHugh, Craig Forsyth and Ritchie Jones stepped in, although there was plenty of experience on the bench in Nahki Wells, James Hanson, Gary Jones and Nathan Doyle.

Victory left City just two rounds away from a trip to the national stadium and Parkinson said: “It is great for the football club. This is a competition we want to do well in and as it doesn’t kick in again until into the new year, we can put it to bed for a bit, concentrate on our Christmas period league fixtures and then go at it again when there are less midweek fixtures scheduled.”

Success obviously takes its toll as City make promotion from League Two their priority, though they also have the Capital One Cup visit of Arsenal to look forward to next Tuesday.

Explaining his midweek shake-up, Parkinson said: “We make changes in games like that to try and manage the amount of match minutes each player is playing and to give some players in the squad a fair share of the action.

“The results like that at Port Vale and others this season show that we have faith in all the members of our squad and we go to win every game possible whoever is selected.”

Parkinson’s side return to league action on Saturday when they entertain Torquay United.

Bradford are sixth, just a point clear of their eighth-placed visitors and three points off Cheltenham, who occupy the third automatic promotion place.