Bradford City v Oldham Athletic: Callum Cooke eager to express himself in front of 16,000 Bantams at Valley Parade

This season Callum Cooke will have a manager on his back and fans to impress again. He cannot wait.

Behind-closed-doors football provided some players with a safe space to try things without hearing the frustrated reactions of thousands of supporters if it went wrong. For most, though, the encouragement and even admonishment is inspiring.

It is why Cooke cannot wait to perform for what is expected to be more than 16,000 supporters for Bradford City against Oldham Athletic in League Two today.

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“I love playing in front of fans because I express myself,” he says. “The best players don’t care if they give the ball away and that’s the best way to play. You get the best out of players if they enjoy themselves. I want to hear them cheering if I do something good and it’ll spur me on.

Bradford City's Callum Cooke (Picture: PA)

“It doesn’t really affect me if there’s 100,000 or 1,000 as long as there’s fans there. I just want to put on a show for them.”

Manager Derek Adams has demanded double-figure goals and assists this season from the midfielder who scored a brilliant free-kick in front of the Nottingham Forest away end in Wednesday’s 2-1 League Cup defeat.

“He expects me to step up to the plate, get him 10 goals and 10 assists,” says Cooke. “I feel like I can thrive off that pressure.

“The gaffer’s been absolutely first-class since he’s come in and you can see he is a real winner, he wants winners in the team.

Nottingham Forest's Ateef Konate and Bradford City's Finn Cousin-Dawson battle for the ball during the Carabao Cup first round match at the City Ground, Nottingham. (Picture: PA)

“I told him a couple of weeks ago I don’t want to be playing at this level, I want to take this club to a different level.

“My job is then to show it on the pitch so to open the scoring in my second game of the season is a really encouraging sign for me.”

Levi Sutton’s head injury has added him to a casualty list which already featured Yann Songo’o and Oskar Threlkeld.