WINGERS Filipe Morais and Paul Anderson WILL be back for City s play-off push this season.
Phil Parkinson has confirmed both long-term absentees are on course to return to the fray before the curtain comes down in May. And the Bantams boss reckons the imminent comeback of the influential duo will provide a timely lift as the chase for a top-six finish hots up. Parkinson said: Fil s a few weeks ahead of Paul but the way they are progressing we re expecting both of them to give us a massive boost towards the end of the season.
There s such a large chunk of the season left there s 16 games to go. They are two good players.
Look at Fil on that right hand side for us last year and how well he did. He s a very good player who can create things and he s tactically aware.
Obviously Paul s played all his career at Championship level and was just starting to show what he was all about before he got injured.
They are two lads who will be big boosts for the squad when they come back and will give us some more creativity in the team.
Anderson broke his leg against Peterborough at Valley Parade in September in only his fifth start for the club. Morais has been out of action since pre-season when he ruptured knee ligaments in training.
Parkinson added: Fil had a slight setback last week when we had to train on artificial turf. But he feels a lot better now and we re back on the grass.
If you add those two to what we ve got, it certainly becomes a very strong squad.
When you come into that period when the games come thick and fast again, we re going to need everybody.
I don t want to put a time on it but certainly before the end of the season I think they ll be back.
We ve just got to be careful. Fil s a very enthusiastic lad and wants to be involved now.
But Matty (Barrass, physio) and Nick (Allamby, fitness coach) will guide that and when they are happy for him to have a reserve game, we ll unleash him.
CITY can take inspiration from both ends of the pitch as they target a winning hat-trick tomorrow. The strikers have rediscovered the goal trail with six in the week s two victories that have moved the Bantams to within three points of the top six. But the back-to-back clean sheets have been equally significant for Phil Parkinson, who highlighted key defensive interventions for maintaining the team s momentum.
Tony McMahon took the plaudits for the free-kick that opened the scoring against Southend on Tuesday. But that came only two minutes after Ben Williams had pulled off a fine tip-over save. Parkinson said: Sometimes you need inspirational moments like scoring a goal to get you going. But Ben s save early in the game from Noel Hunt was just as key.
Defenders making those blocks and showing that desire to stop things is crucial. They can be just as important to the team as a goal.
We speak about it in training all the time. Even when we have small-sided games, the team who ve got the defenders prepared to make blocks and work hard to protect their goal are the one who normally win.
Rory McArdle was back in training yesterday following the birth of his son Alexander. But the player of the year has a fight on his hands to dislodge Nathan Clarke, who earned rave reviews from his manager for his role in the midweek shut-out. But Parkinson has a possible concern in central midfield with illness affecting both Josh Cullen and Lee Evans.
Parkinson said: Josh has got a bit of a virus so we will monitor him. Lee s also had flu-type symptoms but we ll see how they are. If either don t make it, either Billy Knott or Josh Morris would cover as City chase a third win in eight days to keep up the feel-good factor at Valley Parade. Rochdale s form has been up and down but Parkinson anticipates a typically fierce encounter with a familiar foe.
We know them well, he said. They are a team who play high-energy football.
In the games when they ve got that just right against Walsall and Burton, you would have thought they were the top-of-the-table team.
We know, like every team in this league, they are as good as anybody on their day and we ve got to be prepared for that. Performance levels have got to be high.
We ve got to go flat out to get the result because we know Rochdale will come into this game fired up. It s a Yorkshire v Lancashire derby and we have to be ready.
City jumped to eighth after beating Southend. With sixth-placed Millwall playing Peterborough tomorrow and Coventry without a game, another win would put them firmly back in the mix.
Parkinson added: We need to use the last two wins to build up confidence levels. That s important at any level of football.
Equally, we must have that understanding of what we ve done well to get those results and what we need to reproduce.
I always say it but any win at this level is very hard-fought. It s often down to the fine details.
It s very rare to completely dominate games from start to finish. There are going to be spells when you will be under pressure and it s about being resolute when that happens.
When Southend started the second half well, we stood firm and didn t let them get back into the game. That s what you have to do.
WEST Ham midfielder Josh Cullen is set to join City. Sources in the south claim the 19-year-old is the loan target that Phil Parkinson hopes to bring in. A Republic of Ireland under-21 international, Cullen made his Premier League debut in August at Anfield as the Hammers stunned Liverpool 3-0.
Cullen, who signed a long-term contract the following month, has also been on the bench frequently in recent weeks. Parkinson is keen to add another midfielder to the squad after the emergency loan window re-opened yesterday. City have built up a good relationship with West Ham over the way they have managed Reece Burke during the season.