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Bradford City v Sunderland: Bantams captain hailed ahead of another stiff test

David Hopkin: Faces old friend.
David Hopkin: Faces old friend.
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two divisions separated the clubs along with a huge gulf in financial resources when Sunderland last visited Bradford City in 2015.

That, though, could not prevent the Bantams from knocking Gus Poyet’s Black Cats out of the FA Cup as the North East club joined Chelsea on the list of scalps claimed that season by the League One outfit.

Bradford and Sunderland are now in the same division. They also have two managers who go back years as friends.

But City will again have to overcome the odds today if David Hopkin is to follow Phil Parkinson’s lead and get the better of a club still receiving parachute payments following relegation from the Premier League in 2017.

“We are up against a very good team,” Hopkin told The Yorkshire Post. “Sunderland are fighting to go back up and have a massive squad.

“They can change three, four, five positions and still be strong. That is a big advantage in this division.

“That is why I ask our fans to get down to the ground and get right behind us. Their support is invaluable.”

As for tackling a side led by fellow Scot and good friend Jack Ross, the Bantams’ chief added: “I know Jack really well. We have been friends for a number of years.

“He had a tough start at Alloa in his first job, but eventually turned it round. He then had success at St Mirren.”

City will be buoyed by the midweek win over AFC Wimbledon, Hopkin’s first since succeeding Michael Collins last month.

It was a hard-fought victory by a squad that has been decimated by injury, Jim O’Brien the latest to fall victim to a curse that has left Hopkin without 13 players for much of his short time at Valley Parade.

“We got back at 4am on Wednesday so the players had the day off,” said Hopkin, whose side will be back in action on Tuesday in the Checkatrade Trophy against Oldham Athletic.

“But since returning to training on Thursday the boys have been in good spirits.

“It was the same on the coach home from Wimbledon. That is what a win can do for you especially one that comes through the sort of hard-working performance that was needed on Tuesday.

“Losing Jim O’Brien so early was a blow, but Anthony O’Connor went into midfield and produced a real captain’s performance. It was great to see and something to take into what will be another big game at home.”