CONSIDERING the efforts that went into winning their FA Cup reprieve, Bradford City could have perhaps been expected tonight to pull out all the stops to reach the third round for the second consecutive year.
However, such are the demands now being placed on the Yorkshire club’s squad thanks to their stirring cup exploits in recent weeks, Phil Parkinson has warned supporters to expect a much-changed team at Brentford.
The Bantams, reinstated in the competition last Wednesday after initially being booted out for fielding an ineligible player in the 1-1 draw with the Bees at Valley Parade on November 30, will be playing their 33rd game of the season.
Such a schedule would be considered demanding for a top Premier League club, never mind a side looking to escape the bottom division at the sixth attempt.
Parkinson said: “The two chairmen obviously wanted to appeal and we did that. To be thrown out of the FA Cup brings a certain stigma and with the decision being ludicrous in the first place, it was the right thing to do.
“But now the game is here, we have to look at the bigger picture. Beating Arsenal means an extra two games (in the Capital One Cup semi-finals), while our Johnstone’s Paint Trophy game (against Crewe) has already had to be put back a week (to January 15).
“That is why I am going to be honest with the supporters and tell them I plan to completely change the team against Brentford. We will bring some of the youth players in, while some of the senior players won’t even travel.
“There are a few seniors who need a game so they will be involved. But I have got to be fair to the rest ahead of a busy Christmas.”
Among those first-team squad members likely to be given a run-out at Griffin Park are Ricky Ravenhill, Alan Connell, Ritchie Jones and Zavon Hines.
Kyel Reid, who was in the squad that travelled to Southend United but did not feature in the 18, is also set to return after 11 weeks out but Curtis Good – the ineligible player who inadvertently led to City’s administrative problems in the Cup – is not available along with loanees Tom Naylor and Craig Forsyth, the latter two having been refused permission to play by parent clubs Derby County and Watford respectively.
Tonight’s trip to West London means City will have had a Tuesday night game in 11 of the past 13 weeks. With Christmas coming along with three midweek Cup ties in January, the demands on Parkinson’s squad are only going to grow.
He said: “I won’t be able to play the same team on December 26, 29 and then January 1. So, this is a chance for those who haven’t been in the side for whatever reason to push their claim. If a couple of the youngsters do well, then they could be involved, too.”
Last six games: Brentford WWDLWW, Bradford City DDWWDD.
Last time: Brentford 2 Bradford City 1; December 13, 2008; League Two.
Referee: G Scott (Oxfordshire).