BRADFORD CITY head coach David Hopkin believes the squad he inherited earlier this month is “getting there” in terms of adopting his ideas and practices.
The Bantams ended a five-game losing run with a 1-1 draw at home to Everton Under-21s in the Checkatrade Trophy.
An extra point towards qualification from the group stage was subsequently earned in a penalty shoot-out.
“You are always wanting to get your first win,” said Hopkin, who named eight of the starting XI that had lost at Doncaster Rovers.
“Even though it was a draw, it is still something positive to build on. We created a lot of chances and it was pleasing to see things that we have been working on in training out there on the pitch.
“The most pleasing thing was when we did go a goal down we kept going and working. Our fitness levels are getting there.”
Hopkin’s first few weeks back at Valley Parade have been hit by an injury crisis that has left him down to the bare bones.
Thirteen players were unavailable for the derby at the Keepmoat Stadium but the situation is about to ease with Kelvin Mellor the first of several to return against Bristol Rovers this weekend.
“He was back in again yesterday for treatment and we will see how he is,” said the Bradford chief. “I thought he was excellent at Blackpool (in Hopkin’s first game) and we have missed his presence, his deliveries. He gives the team that bit of height and legs as well.”
Josh Wright, the club’s captain, is also due back to training early next week as City look to improve on their lowly position.
Even though it was a draw, it is still something positive to build on. We created a lot of chances and it was pleasing to see things that we have been working on in training out there on the pitch.Bradford City boss, David Hopkin
These returning players will give Hopkin some much needed flexibility when it comes to formations, the Scot having switched to 4-4-2 against Everton’s youngsters.
“Systems and formations will be dictated by who is available,” he added. “Once everyone is out there, I can pick a shape that suits us best.”
Explaining his decision to select a strong team, Hopkin added: “Eoin Doyle has missed a lot of pre-season with Preston before he came so we rested him. We also made sure Ryan McGowan had a couple of days rest.
“Anthony O’Connor played really well at right-back and hopefully we’ll have one or two back for the weekend which will make us stronger.”