Gary Bowyer says his Bradford City players let themselves down at Plymouth Argyle last week, and with four players back from injury he is in a position to do something about it at Macclesfield Town.
Jake Reeves and Jordan Gibson played in a behind-closed-doors game against Bolton Wanderers on Tuesday, and Shay McCartan and Matty Palmer are back in training.
“We are looking good again, now, and are close to welcoming back quite a few of the lads,” confirmed manager Bowyer.
“Shay McCartan and Matty Palmer joined back in – this week – and Jake Reeves and Jordan Gibson played in an organised friendly on Tuesday.”
McCartan, who has been out for a month, is yet to start a league game this season, while Palmer – on loan from Rotherham United – has not featured since September.
Gibson has been out since August, and Reeves has not played since making his comeback in the EFL Trophy earlier this month.
It gives Bowyer options to react to the 2-1 defeat at Plymouth’s Home Park.
“The players let themselves down and recognised that they’d fallen short,” he reflected.
“That’s a credit to them because they didn’t come out with any excuses.
“But that’s the first time we’ve said that this season, which is a measure of their progress.
“I’ve not really had to do much of that (criticising). For them to have it properly for the first time isn’t bad considering it was the 17th (league) game.
“Now I’m really looking forward to seeing the character of them after we’ve been tested and challenged.”
Bowyer, though, has been pleased with what he has seen in training since.
“You have a gauge and a feel for it by how they were on Saturday and Monday and how they were after speaking to them individually.
“It’s one of those. We can do all the talking we want and build all the games up as managers always do, but the talking gets done on the pitch.
“I can say whatever people want to hear but ultimately it’s down to the players to go and produce.”