BRADFORD CITY’S Joe Riley has already had a crash course in the often unforgiving life of senior football.
The 21-year-old has started all four games for the Bantams since swapping Manchester United’s Under-23s for League One during the summer.
Amid the satisfaction of playing regular football, however, there has been a couple of testing moments for Riley.
Not only was he substituted at half-time in City’s last home game against Barnsley, but he then missed a penalty in the Carabao Cup shoot-out defeat to Macclesfield Town a week ago.
“Coming off at half-time was annoying,” admitted the Blackpool-born full-back, “but it is football. If the head coach thinks the decision to change the formation and bring in someone else is right then you respect that. We have more games where I can prove myself and earn more game time.
“To miss a penalty in the shoot-out was a negative, but you use that to drive you forward for the next game – and I would take another (penalty), yes.
“It is part of being a player, all experience. All the lads said after the game, ‘Keep your head up, there are more games to come’. I knew that. Don’t overthink it and crack on.
“It also shows the competitiveness of playing in League One, in men’s football. In Under-23s, of course you want to win, but there is nothing really pushing you.
“Now there is. You can see that in how the boys are raring to go and how the fans get behind us.”
Riley will be hoping to make his second appearance on home soil tonight as Nigel Clough brings his Burton Albion side to Valley Parade for a game that is likely to attract the biggest crowd of the night outside the Championship.
Riley once faced Midtjylland in the Europa League at Old Trafford in front of almost 60,000 fans.
“A lot of people would say that Bradford are the Man United of League One,” added the one-time Sheffield United loanee.
“It is a big club and the support we have is unbelievable.”
Last six games: Bradford City DWLDL Burton Albion WLLLWW.
Referee: C Sarginson (Staffordshire).
Last time: Bradford City 2 Burton Albion 0; March 8, 2016; League One.