TIMOTHEE DIENG’S family and friends are in for a rare treat this weekend.
Since the French midfielder moved across the English Channel a little under three years ago, anyone back home wanting to see him in action has had to make the same journey.
But not tomorrow, thanks to Bradford City’s clash with fellow promotion hopefuls, Scunthorpe United, being selected for live transmission by Sky Sports. As part of the Football League television deal, this also means the lunchtime encounter will be beamed to several countries – offering those closest to Dieng in Grenoble a rare opportunity to watch him live.
“My family and friends are really excited,” said the 24-year-old when talking to The Yorkshire Post. “They have been asking when the game will be shown in France, they all want to watch it.
“It will be different for them. The Premier League is on TV a lot but not so much our league. It means my family can’t watch me often, they have to come to England when it is possible. So, to see Bradford City live on television will be great for them.”
Dieng’s dad and brother will be among those tuning in from Grenoble tomorrow lunchtime, though mum could be out of luck.
“My mum is in Canada this weekend so she is trying to find out if it will be on TV,” added the midfielder, who spent two years at Oldham Athletic before moving to Valley Parade last summer.
“We are a close family and stay in touch every day. They cannot be here all the time but they follow Bradford City on the internet. There is also Skype and we speak a lot.
“When we spoke this week, I have had to say when kick-off is and make sure they know the clocks change on Sunday. I don’t want them to miss the match.”
The Dieng clan will be well minded to keep on top of British Summer Time’s arrival, as City are well worth watching right now.
This is a very important game. I am confident due to the quality of our team and squad that we can win the game.Bradford City’s Timothee Dieng.
Last weekend’s dramatic 2-1 win over Swindon Town, earned courtesy of two goals in the final five minutes from Charlie Wyke, means the Bantams have taken 14 points from their last six outings.
Bolton Wanderers’ own impressive form means automatic promotion remains a long shot for a side who until recently had become the draw specialists of the Football League.
But the recent flurry of wins has helped strengthen Bradford’s grip on a play-off place with the gap between Stuart McCall’s men in fourth place and Millwall just outside the top six now standing at half a dozen points.
Scunthorpe sit directly below the West Yorkshire club but are bang out of form, Graham Alexander’s men having been top when this fixture was chosen by Sky for live broadcast in January.
“This is a very important game with the end of the season not far away,” added Dieng, who has 38 appearances to his name in a City shirt. “I am confident due to the quality of our team and squad that we can win the game.
“Scunthorpe have been in bad form and we have been in good form. That will mean little, anything can happen in a game. But, hopefully, we can keep this form going and keep winning.”
Unusually for a trip to Glanford Park, the Bantams will spend tonight in a nearby hotel as McCall attempts to minimise any disruption caused by the early kick-off.
“Normally, we wouldn’t travel overnight to a fixture so close,” explained the former Scotland international yesterday. “But, because the lads have to eat at 9.15am prior to a 12.30pm kick-off and everyone needing to travel to meet the bus, we are staying over.
“We want to do things properly. Eating is the big thing with early kick-offs. I am not sure what the lads will do with regards what they eat, chicken and pasta at 9.15am might be quite difficult. But they have to get some fuel inside them.”
McCall’s desire to keep things familiar for the Bantams is understandable. Things are going well and there is a sense of momentum building behind a club that reached last season’s play-offs only to bow out against Millwall over two legs.
Dieng knows a thing or two about the value of momentum at this stage of a season, having been at Oldham a year ago.
The Lancashire club pulled off a stunning escape from relegation by overturning what, when John Sheridan was appointed in January, had been a nine-point deficit on the team sitting fifth bottom in League One.
City’s midfielder played a key part and he admits that experience can hold help this time around.
“The pressure is similar to what Oldham had a year ago but also different,” he added.
“When you play for promotion, it is more of an exciting feeling than when trying to avoid relegation.
“At Oldham, it was hard but the good thing was once we started winning then the confidence started to flow. The pressure then became the same.
“John Sheridan did a good job. He kept us relaxed. He wanted us to be strong in defence after first arriving. He wanted a solid base and then, later, worked on the attack. It worked well and I am happy to see he is doing it again at Oldham this season.
“The manager here is similar. Stuart McCall wants us to play with freedom, as Sheridan did. He helps build our confidence and you can see on the pitch that we like that.
“All the season, it has worked well and we hope we can keep going like that. I played against Bradford last season and this is a different team. Last year was a bit more physical, whereas this year there is a bit more football and it is different.
“The team did well last year but, hopefully, we can do better.”