Mark Hughes on why Jamie Walker's timing is exquisite for Bradford City's promotion push

TIMING is everything and Jamie Walker's return to form for Bradford City is exquisite in its arrival.

The Scot followed up his winner in Saturday's victory at high-flying Stevenage by backing it up and underlining what he brings to the table with an eye-catching attacking performance in Tuesday's home success over Tranmere Rovers.

Walker found the net for the first time at BD8 since the final day of last season.

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His game intelligence, movement and threat unhinged Rovers throughout and could potentially be a trump card amid a competitive race for promotion with City showing signs of making a move at a juncture of the season which is traditionally important.

Jamie Walker celebrates scoring Bradford's opening goal. Picture: Bruce RollinsonJamie Walker celebrates scoring Bradford's opening goal. Picture: Bruce Rollinson
Jamie Walker celebrates scoring Bradford's opening goal. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

City remain just outside of the play-offs following victory over Rovers, but just four points separate Mark Hughes's side and the side occupying the final automatic promotion slot in third-placed Carlisle, who have played two games more.

On Walker, fit and firing again after missing the first half of the season through a knee injury, Hughes said: "It has been stop-start for him and he had a significant injury and he has done really well to come back. It was obviously going to take him a little bit of time.

"I always feel with your creative players and guys at the top end of the pitch that if they have been out for any significant length of time, it's timing that goes. That's the thing you have to work on to get back.

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"Your fitness is okay, it is just the timing of your runs and strikes. You can see now that he is starting to get that back and that's pleasing for everybody.

"He is always positive in those key areas of the field. If he is up there helping the front lads, then they have good options and they know if they can't get shots off themselves, they have always got that option of sending it back to Jamie, who will always be in and around them looking to get strikes off.

"He is a good level player at this level and has the ability and understanding of what is required and that's why he shows up and gets in positions to have opportunities. He's an intelligent footballer and it's good that he's back and playing."

The only downer on Tuesday night for City came when Matt Derbyshire came off with injury in the opening 45 minutes.

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The ex-Blackburn Rovers forward, who arrived at the club at the start of the winter window, suffered a thigh problem midway through the first half and immediately looked in distress after pulling up.

It was an unfortunate development for the much-travelled striker on his home debut, following his maiden goal for the club in the win at Stevenage.

Hughes, whose side welcome Barrow on Saturday, added: "We will have to wait and see. He's a little bit sore at the moment.

"He's just got a strain at the top of his thigh and hopefully it's not too significant. It's a real shame, I thought he was doing really well and looked really bright and hopefully we won't lose him for too long.

"But we have got good players to come in and some weren't even involved (on Tuesday)."

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