PHIL PARKINSON says unlikely match-winner Stephen Darby has given him plenty of food for thought after his dramatic intervention against Burton Albion.
The ex-Liverpool right-back was one of six changes made by Bantams boss Parkinson for the Capital One Cup clash and took the bouquets after firing City into the fourth round and a trip to Wigan with a 115th-minute strike to seal a memorable 3-2 comeback win.
Darby picked the perfect time to score his first goal in professional football, with Parkinson admitting the defender has been desperately unlucky to be left out of City’s League Two line-up in recent weeks.
On summer signing Darby, who tasted Champions League action early on in his career for Liverpool at the likes of Atletico Madrid and PSV Eindhoven before falling off the radar at Anfield and being loaned to a succession of lower-league clubs, Parkinson said: “Stephen has been so unlucky to not be in this team of late.
“I certainly did not sign Stephen not to play. I watched a lot of him last season and in the summer, I did a lot of homework on him and I think he is a terrific player.
“It is just the way it has panned out, really, in terms of him not playing with the back of McArdle, Oliver, Davies and Meredith looking strong.
“I will have a think about things before the weekend. But we keep saying to the lads that everyone is in this together and some people will get left out.”
Parkinson, whose side host high-flying Port Vale on Saturday – where his side are seeking to continue their best start to a season at Valley Parade since 1957 – added: “Stephen’s all-round performance was outstanding against Burton and his attitude in training and the intensity he trains at every single day enabled him to play the way he did.
“That’s a great example to everybody because he didn’t once get his head down or complain.
“He has understood we have been on a good run and he’s trained like a demon,” said Parkinson.
“I was so, so pleased for him to get that goal against Burton and in years to come, people will remember that strike because it was the first time for nearly 25 years that we were in the hat for the last 16.”