BRADFORD CITY manager David Hopkin has urged his players to prey upon the insecurities of several rival League One sides – and for anxious fans to hold their nerve.
A mini winter resurgence from relegation candidates City was unceremoniously halted by heavy recent losses to Barnsley and Southend – ahead of Saturday’s hard-earned point at Burton.
Attention has now switched to this evening’s survival ‘six-pointer’ with 18th-placed Shrewsbury, with second-from-bottom City able to draw level on points with the visitors if they win.
Bradford’s position may be precarious, but Hopkin is acutely aware of the mathematics in the relegation picture, with just five points separating City and eighth-from-bottom Plymouth Argyle.
Hopkin said: “I have been saying to the players that if we can manage to get three points, we will probably bring another four or five clubs into the reckoning.
“I think we are still in with a chance of catching anybody who has not reached the 40-point mark at this time.”
It does not look great sitting second-bottom, but a win would take us level with Shrewsbury – that is a great motivation for the players.Bradford City head coach, David Hopkin
Specifically on tonight’s test, he added: “It is a massive game for us and Shrewsbury. We need to make sure we are still in it.
“It does not look great sitting second-bottom, but a win would take us level with Shrewsbury – that is a great motivation for the players.”
Despite another fraught season for City, Hopkin also believes his players’ battle-scared experiences of coping with much adversity in 2018-19 will enable them to handle the pressure in the coming weeks and the run-in.
The Scot, hopeful of completing some deals this week having targeted a striker and a winger, added: “The mindset of the players have been very positive and focused. We have had two bad results and everybody thinks it is the end of the world.
“I kept saying to people that we are going to be in a battle until May. We are prepared for it.
“When teams play each other in the next two or three weeks, it is going to be interesting.
“There could be eight or nine teams in amongst it, if they go on a run and do not pick up wins.”
Last six: LWWLLD; Shrewsbury DDLWDD.
Referee: A Haines (Tyne and Wear).
Last time: Bradford City 0 Shrewsbury 0, April 12, 2018; League One.