Bradford City v Wigan: Bantams aim to put FA Cup heroes in their place

MANAGER Simon Grayson believes Bradford City could be tackling FA Cup quarter-finalists Wigan Athletic at just the right time.

Bradford City's Callum Guy is looking forward to a fresh start under new manager Simon Grayson

The Bantams host the Latics tonight in what will be their first outing at Valley Parade since February 10.

It is also Grayson’s first home game since succeeding Stuart McCall and one in which the 48-year-old will call for his side to make a statement of intent in the race for promotion.

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Completing a league double over a Wigan side who beat Manchester City in the last round of the Cup would certainly do just that.

“Wigan have had some really good performances (in the Cup),” Grayson told The Yorkshire Post. “But, sometimes after those type of wins you can find it emotionally difficult to get back on track.

“I spoke to ‘Snods’ (Glynn Snodin, assistant) the other morning about when we were at Leeds. We beat Manchester United (in the Cup), but then went on a poor run for a few games afterwards.

“It is nothing to do with complacency. It is about having that mental edge with what you have achieved and then the need to get back to the levels again, mentally more than physically.

“That is what you have to deal with when you are successful. That is why the bigger and better clubs, higher up the echelons, have the players who can deal with those situations.

“Some Premier League players find it difficult as well to go from Champions League back to Premier League the following weekend.”

Wigan’s reward for knocking out Pep Guardiola’s side is a home tie against Southampton in the last eight on Sunday lunchtime.

Victory would clinch a trip to Wembley for Paul Cook’s side, an incentive that could be preying on a few minds tonight as Wigan tackle City on what will be a heavy pitch following the recent problems that brought two postponements.

“When one or two tackles fly in hopefully they are aware of what they have got the following weekend,” said Grayson with a smile when asked about the timing of tonight’s game just four days before the big Cup tie.

“The manager will be telling them they are all playing for their places. ‘Play well against Bradford and then you’ve got a good chance of playing in the quarter-final of the FA Cup’, that will be his message. But it can work both ways.

“What we have got to do is concentrate on ourselves and make sure they have a tough time. Whatever they throw at us, we have got to deal with.”

Wigan will move back into the automatic promotion places with victory tonight.

City, though, can get their own season back on track after a wobble that has seen the last eight games yield just two points.

This slump means Bradford trail Plymouth Argyle in the last play-off place by four points, albeit with the Yorkshire club having two games in hand following the recent postponements.

“We will be going for it,” said Grayson, when asked about City’s likely approach tonight.

“That is my attitude at any time. We have got to be positive and take the game to the opposition.

“Get the big crowd behind us and really make it a vibrant place. ‘Cookie’ is very positive thinking as a manager and coach. Let’s hope it is a decent spectacle.”

One man hoping to make a big impression is loanee Callum Guy, arguably City’s best player in their last outing at Plymouth on February 24.

“This is a little bit like a fresh start,” said the 21-year-old January arrival from Derby County, whose previous two home outings in Bantams colours have ended in defeat.

“The postponements have been frustrating, especially as our last game was a defeat. You want to bounce back from those straight away, but that hasn’t been possible.

“Waiting this long has been frustrating. We have had to treat training like games recently. But this is our chance now to end that.

“There has been a change of manager so this is a fresh start since our last home game. A new face in the dugout and new ideas in training. Hopefully we can show the gaffer’s type of play on the pitch against Wigan.”

Charlie Wyke, top scorer with 13 league goals, starts a three-game ban following his dismissal in the 1-0 defeat at Home Park.

Last six games: Bradford City LLLDDL Wigan Athletic LLWWDD.

Referee: M Coy (County Durham).

Last time: Bradford City 1 Wigan Athletic 1; October 24, 2015; League One.