BRADFORD CITY boss Phil Parkinson is today re-doubling his efforts to bring in new recruits ahead of next Thursday’s emergency loan window deadline after a bittersweet FA Cup victory over Northampton Town.
The Bantams’ latest penalty shoot-out success on Tuesday evening came at a price, courtesy of injuries to the trio of Zavon Hines, Stephen Darby and James Meredith, which took much of the shine away from another dramatic cup night for the club.
Parkinson is assessing all three players, with the City chief – who has been linked with a move for young Southampton full-back Matt Young, 18 – admitting he is fearful that they could be out for several weeks to further increase the count in the club’s treatment room, which has already been busy this season.
If the news is bad, it would represent the latest blow to befall the Bantams, forced to pick up the pieces after central defenders Luke Oliver and Andrew Davies suffered serious injuries in the 1-0 loss at Burton Albion on October 27, with the former ruled out for the rest of the season.
City’s schedule is increasingly exacerbating matters, which for the past two months has been a strength-sapping one and they have only had a midweek break on one occasion.
In the past 24 days, Parkinson’s troops have had to fit in eight matches, two of which – the cup fixtures against the Cobblers and Wigan Athletic – have gone to extra time.
And there promises to be no let-up for the Valley Parade outfit, with at least 10 matches on the itinerary for the rest of the calendar year and possibly 11 if their FA Cup second-round clash with Brentford goes to a replay, which would take place at Griffin Park on Tuesday, December 18.
The run also includes long road trips to Bristol Rovers, Southend United and Wycombe Wanderers.
Parkinson, whose side play their 25th game of the season at home to Exeter City on Saturday, said: “This time of the season is going to be really important and me and the chairman will have a chat about the situation. Once we get into January, there are fewer midweek games in the league compared to the early part of the season, which has been a really heavy schedule.
“A lot of managers have picked up injuries to their sides, but we have had more games than the majority of teams.
“With the amount of games we have had, you are going to pick up injuries. Obviously, in the Burton game, where we lost our two centre-halves, it was particularly unusual – in losing one for the season and the other for three to four months. That was a real blow and now we have got to deal with this potentially.
“We will respond as we did after the Burton game. Good managers and good chairmen get together and get their heads around the table and make some plans and that is what we have to do again.
“Zavon, Stephen Darby and James Meredith all look like they are going to be out for a few weeks and as the game went into extra-time (on Tuesday), that was on my mind.
“The cup competitions are good, but our priority is the league.
“This is the period of the season which is so important for us now. But we will get through it and I will make sure we have got a team who, come Saturday, are ready to go again.”
City’s 4-2 win on penalties against Adi Boothroyd’s Cobblers, after the tie ended 3-3 following extra-time, extended their incredible victory roll in shoot-outs in cup competitions to eight on the spin.
The run goes back to October 2009 with City also having not seen their colours lowered in eight cup encounters so far in 2012-13.
Parkinson was full of praise for his side’s character as they dug in impressively with a goal from the final touch of the game by Carl McHugh to take the tie to a shoot-out with City playing the second period of extra-time with 10 men once left-back Meredith had hobbled off with a hip problem and the hosts had already made all their substitutions.
City, who lost winger Hines to an ankle injury in the first half, led twice in normal time, only for the Cobblers to snatch a last-gasp leveller to make it 2-2 ahead of the extra-time and penalties.
Parkinson, who also saw four players struck down by a bug in the build-up to Tuesday’s game, which forced him to cancel training, added: “It was a great night for us in terms of the fighting spirit of the team.
“Certainly, some of the quality of the football in the first 45 minutes was excellent and we probably should have had the game won in 90 minutes after scoring that goal through Nahki (Wells) just before the end. But to be down to 10 men with 15 minutes to go of extra-time and a goal down and to come back and win was an outstanding achievement by the lads.
“It is always good to get through and keeps the momentum going and we are really pleased. Brentford is a game we can go into with confidence now.
“You sensed in the stadium there was an air of confidence about us (with penalties). But I do think the talking point should have been the manner in which the lads played as we had a really patched-up team.”