Parkinson refuses to gamble on fitness of his captain

Bradford's Stephen Darby
Bradford's Stephen Darby
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PHIL PARKINSON insists Bradford City captain Stephen Darby will not be unduly risked after his 18-month ever-present record came to an end this week.

The 25-year-old – Player of the Year at Valley Parade in 2013-14 – had to sit out Tuesday night’s Capital One Cup exit to Milton Keynes Dons.

Darby, who reported suffering from a tight groin after the weekend draw at Colchester United, had last not started a City game in January, 2013.

And then, he only missed out because Parkinson opted to rest several of his first-choice players for a Johnstone’s Paint Trophy clash at Crewe Alexandra due to a heavy schedule that was caused by the club’s unexpected run to the Wembley final against Swansea City.

Before that, Darby’s last absence had been in a 1-0 home defeat to Exeter City in November of the previous year.

City manager Parkinson said: “Stephen’s record of playing is tremendous but it has just caught up with him a little bit over the last week or so.

“He has probably played with things when he shouldn’t have done. He is a great captain but we just felt it was the right thing to leave him out because his groin has been getting progressively worse.

“(Head physio) Matt Barrass said to me that if we didn’t give him a period of rest now, it could end up as a longer-term injury.

“We will get Darbs on the training pitch and have a look. But if he is not right, we won’t risk him. I don’t think we need to after you look at the way Gary (Liddle) played.”

Bradford host Port Vale this weekend and if Darby doesn’t recover then Liddle, handed the armband at stadium:mk, will continue in his place.

Alan Sheehan will come back into the reckoning after a three-game suspension.

Sheffield United, Yorkshire’s last remaining club in the Capital One Cup, have been drawn against fellow League One side MK Dons in the fourth round draw.

The Blades beat Leyton Orient 1-0 on Tuesday night to secure their spot, but must travel again next month.

Elsewhere, Chelsea – who beat Bolton 2-1 last night thanks to an Oscar goal – must travel to giantkillers Shrewsbury Town. Tottenham’s reward for beating Nottingham Forest 3-1, is another home tie with Brighton.

Fourth round draw: Tottenham v Brighton, Stoke v Southampton, Bournemouth v West Brom, Shrewsbury v Chelsea, Liverpool v Swansea, MK Dons v Sheff Utd, Man City v Newcastle, Fulham v Derby. Ties to be played October 28-29.