MANAGER Phil Parkinson is confident that Filipe Morais and Paul Anderson will be back in the fray during a run-in that is shaping up to be a pivotal one for Bradford City.
Eighth-placed Bantams are within striking distance of the League One play-off spots and head into the final 16 games of the campaign boosted by the impending return of two wingers from long-term injuries.
Morais has not kicked a ball in anger in 2015-16 after rupturing an anterior cruciate ligament in pre-season training in July.
Summer signing Anderson has been sidelined since breaking his right leg in the 2-0 home defeat to Peterborough United on September 26.
Both are well down the road to recovery with Parkinson hopeful that they will feature before the end of the season and provide trump cards.
On the pair’s prospects of returning, Parkinson, whose on-song side welcome Rochdale this afternoon seeking their third league win and clean sheet in the space of a week, said: “Yes, definitely. There’s such a large chunk of the season left.
“If you add those two to what we’ve got, it certainly becomes a very strong squad.
“When you come into that period when the games come thick and fast again, we’re going to need everybody.
“Look at Fil on that right-hand side for us last year and how well he did. He’s a very good player who can create things and he’s tactically aware.
“Obviously Paul’s played all his career at Championship level and was just starting to show what he was all about before he got injured.
“They are two lads who will be big boosts for the squad when they come back and will give us some more creativity in the team.”
Given the gravity of the duo’s injuries, Parkinson is understandably reserved when it comes to putting a specific timescale on the returning date for each player.
Portuguese winger Morais is at a slightly more advanced stage than Anderson, who had made 10 appearances for City before he suffered his serious injury, but both are in a good place.
Parkinson added: “I don’t want to put a time on, it but certainly before the end of the season I think they’ll be back.
“Fil’s a few weeks ahead of Paul, but the way they are progressing, we’re expecting both of them to give us a massive boost towards the end of the season.
“Fil’s been training for a full week now. But we have just got to be careful. He’s a very enthusiastic lad and wants to be involved now.
“But Matty (Barrass, physio) and Nick (Allamby, fitness coach) will guide that and when they are happy for him to have a reserve game, we’ll unleash him.
“Fil had a slight setback last week when we had to train on the Astroturf early in the week. But we’re back on the grass, which has been a huge boost for us.”
Last six games: Bradford City DLWLWW, Rochdale LLWLLD.
Referee: R Clark (Northumberland).
Last time: Bradford City 1 Rochdale 2; January 10, 2015; League One.