Bradford leave early and Parkinson rallies forces at St George’s Park

PHIL PARKINSON insists Bradford City’s preparations for tonight’s League Cup semi-final at Aston Villa have not been unduly disrupted by the heavy snowfall that has fallen across the country over the past 24 hours.

The Bantams travelled down to the Midlands earlier than planned yesterday after waking to discover their Apperley Bridge training ground closed due to the wintry weather.

Parkinson decided to head south early to avoid any possibility of the City squad having to contend with what could be a tricky trip for the 6,000 fans travelling to Villa Park from Yorkshire today. With City having been unable to train in the north, Parkinson ensured his players did at least get a run-out later in the day at the new state-of-the art St George’s Park in Burton.

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The Bantams chief felt this was vital after Saturday’s League Two encounter at Port Vale was postponed and the players were forced to find alternative training facilities at Leeds United’s Thorp Arch base.

Parkinson said: “Training has been limited. Leeds kindly let us use their indoor facility on Saturday morning, which was great of them. The lads had Sunday off, but then, thanks to the weather, we struggled to find anywhere to train (yesterday morning). So we went down to Burton to train at St George’s Park. It was important we got the lads out training before the game at Villa Park.”

Villa manager Paul Lambert believes a capacity 43,000 crowd at Villa Park could make all the difference in deciding which club tonight books a place in the Capital One Cup final on February 24.

He said: “I know for a fact the stadium will be absolutely bouncing. It will be a different ball game to a fortnight ago.

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“The players will feed off the atmosphere. It happened in the game against Manchester United here this season.

“You look at that game and I couldn’t hear myself shout with the noise levels that the stadium generated. We’ll be ready for this.

“Ninety minutes is a long time in a game of football, but we know we have to come out of the traps really quickly. The crowd will generate that as well.”

Lambert is also confident that his side can repair the damage of two weeks ago at Valley Parade where they lost 3-1.

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The Scot added: “Bradford’s form is probably not as good as they would like it to be. It can happen. You have a big night against someone midweek and you go and lose your next league game because it is hard to sustain that level.

“But it’s about us (tonight) and what we do. It is our home game and we know what we have to do.

“I don’t sense any apprehension at all. In a Cup game, anything can happen but, with a big pitch and a crowd behind us, hopefully we will be able to score more than we did up in Bradford. We had a lot of chances. If we can create that amount of chances, we’ll be close.”