Premier recruits show Bradford City mean business

THE PAST week has brought a notable upturn in what has, at times, been a difficult summer for Bradford City.
Huddersfield Town's Jack Payne, on loan at Bradford City.Huddersfield Town's Jack Payne, on loan at Bradford City.
Huddersfield Town's Jack Payne, on loan at Bradford City.

Jack Payne’s arrival on loan from Huddersfield Town has been a big factor, not least because he is a proven performer in League One who had opportunities to go elsewhere after helping Blackburn Rovers to promotion last May.

The Bantams winning the race for Payne’s signature sent out just the right message. As does the impending capture of Sean Scannell, who at 27 makes the switch across West Yorkshire with more than 300 Championship appearances to his name.

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Payne, a team-mate of Scannell as Huddersfield clinched promotion to the Premier League in 2016-17, is in no doubt that City have made a smart move.

“Sean Scannell will be a great signing,” said the midfielder to The Yorkshire Post. “I know him really well. A great player who is strong, fast and athletic.

“He is also good on the ball and a big threat in attack. He creates chances and I can only speak positively about him.

“The good thing is he is big, can hold off defenders and will get the ball up the pitch. But that doesn’t stop him moving well. An exciting signing for the club.

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“It is funny how it has worked out. The two of us moving here has been a bit of a coincidence. But it is nice for me and nice for him. It should help us both settle in.”

Scannell, the longest-serving member of the Town squad and the players’ player of the year in 2014-15, will not have to look too far to learn more about Bradford.

Jamie Lawrence, part of the Bantams side that reached the Premier League in 1999, is a good friend and someone the winger has credited with helping his career.

Summer camps laid on by Lawrence in the capital helped Scannell from 2014 onwards return to pre-season training at Huddersfield in tip-top shape.

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On Tuesday night, Scannell was at Valley Parade as Payne marked his bow for Bradford with a goal against Sheffield United.

City, who are also looking to bring Burton Albion’s Matty Lund back to the club, lost 3-2 thanks to a deflected late winner by Billy Sharp but the manner of the League One club’s second-half display boded well.

Payne was central to that impressive showing, his link-play and ability to spot an opening causing the Blades all manner of problems. His goal was pretty special, too, as Dean Henderson was left with no chance by a fiercely-struck shot from 20 yards.

It underlined the coup Michael Collins pulled off by landing Payne, who spent the first half of last term on loan at Oxford United before switching to Blackburn.

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“There were other offers,” admitted Payne about this summer. “But Bradford were the first to show real interest. That is always important.

“From what I was told by the manager and talking to a few others, Bradford seemed the keenest to sign me. You want to go where you are wanted.

“I already knew a couple of the lads here so had a word with them. Only positive things were coming back to me. That made it a no-brainer for me.

“I am in the team to get on the ball and make things happen. So far, the manager looks to trust me to do that.

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“The other players also got the ball to me, which suggests they trust me. Hopefully, we can be successful.”

Payne joined Huddersfield in 2016 from Southend United. His second appearance brought a memorable winner at Newcastle United

It was one of four goals he netted in Town colours that season under David Wagner but promotion meant a loan move away was required to get games.

The Terriers’ survival last May meant he had to do the same again this summer, much to the delight of Bradford.

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“I know League One well,” said the midfielder, who helped Blackburn to a 2-0 win over the Bantams last April in front of the live Sky cameras. “The size of the club was a big thing for me.

“Every time I played here, the atmosphere was great. Naturally, that makes it a place you want to be involved.

“I enjoyed Sheffield United. I hadn’t trained with Bradford beforehand. I know what to expect due to being in this league last year. I hadn’t done much with Huddersfield, either. But I felt good, a lot fitter than I thought I might feel.

“Based on what I have seen so far, there is no reason why we can’t be successful.

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“Every team will be the same in pre-season, things need working on. But we have a couple more weeks and I don’t see there being any problems with the new players gelling.

“Admittedly, it is early days. But there seems to be a lot of quality here, along with a good mix of experience and talent.

“So far, I have been really impressed. We handled ourselves well against a very good Sheffield United side who will be up there this season.”