Bradford City are 21st in League Two after a torrid start to the season. The Bantams are struggling for form and players as an injury crisis has left the team running on empty. Worryingly, there are seven December fixtures and, in the current circumstances, Bradford City are simply not ready for them.
December Preview for Bradford City
Bradford City Manager Stuart McCall Laments Injury Woes
As reported in the Telegraph and Argus, McCall described the issue of injuries: “It is hard to balance everything. I don’t think any club in the league has had the rotten run of luck that we have had with injuries.
“It makes it difficult when you want to play a certain way. A few of the lads need to get up and running.”
A few long-term or recurring injuries have kept some players out of the squad in recent months. In Bradford’s last outing, Stuart McCall had to rely on jaded players against second-placed Cheltenham Town as seven players were injured. The Robins beat Bradford City 2-1 as the latter stages of the game saw City’s fatigue take hold.
As of today, McCall stated that Lee Novak will not be rushed back into playing for at least a week. Clayton Donaldson, 36, has been holding the fort on his own due to the injury crisis and will be desperate for another senior player to shoulder some of the goalscoring burden. Novak has shown qualities that are lacking in the current side. Strong on the ball, determined running, and clever hold-up play. It is no coincidence that Bradford City have only won one game whilst Novak has been injured, his talents have been missed.
The sheer amount of injuries in the Bradford City squad does not bode well for a busy December.
Carlisle United 5th – December 5
Carlisle United are up next and will be a tricky home game for Bradford as they sit fifth in League Two. Chris Beech’s side are also fresh from beating Salford City 2-1, in a game that The Cumbrians dominated. They registered around 23 shots, seven of which were on target. Jon Mellish, 23, is one to watch for in the game as the defender-turned-midfielder has bagged ten goals. Mellish is in red hot form and Bradford’s weak defence is sure to be tested by Carlisle’s top scorer.
Oldham Athletic 17th – December 12
At first glance, this looks like a winnable game as both teams occupy positions nearer the bottom of the table, however, Oldham Athletic seem to be a bogey-team for the Bantams and it is an away fixture. The two teams have met three times already this season, with Oldham winning all three games. The most recent outing on the 28th of November saw Oldham dominate proceedings and scored two delightful long-range finishes.
Crawley Town 13th – December 15
Another away trip but this time the Bantams will take a long journey south to meet Crawley Town. The Red Devils are 13th in League Two and haven’t won in the past five games. However, if you looked closely at the games, Crawley have been somewhat unlucky. They have scored in four out of the five games and only seem to lose by narrow margins. 21-year-old Max Watters is the current top scorer with seven goals in ten games and is having an impressive first season at the club.
Cambridge United 6th – December 19
This is a home tie for Bradford and is another tough test in the hectic December schedule. Cambridge’s form has dropped off slightly, but they are still in and around the playoff places. Former Bradford-loanee Paul Mullin has started the season in blistering form and has racked up 13 goals in as many games. Mullin is, at the time of writing, the leading scorer in League Two and will have to be closely watched. The head coach Mark Bronner is only 35 and is enjoying his first managerial role with the Us.
Grimsby Town 18th – December 22
This game sees three former Bantams return. James Hanson, a club hero to many Bradford fans, is leading the line at Grimbsy Town. The 33-year-old is yet to score for Grimsby in his four appearances. From club hero to club zero, former Bradford winger Sean Scannell signed for Grimsby Town in September but has yet to make an appearance.
Finally, former-loanee Luke Hendrie will mark his return to his beloved Bradford City. Many City fans will remember Hendrie as being the focal point of a pre-game argument that seemed to start the Edin Rahic crusade. Rumour has it, as reported in GrimsbyLive, that Rahic blocked a permanent deal for Hendrie who was then immediately sent back to his parent club Burnley. McCall would be sacked from his role as ‘head coach’ soon after.
Tranmere Rovers 8th – December 26
Another December game, another former Bradford City player returns. Former captain, James Vaughan will surely be salivating at the thought of playing against his former club. Keen to be the centre of attention, Vaughan will no doubt be up to his old tricks in a bid to steal the show. Tranmere are flying with five wins on the bounce and are looking to force themselves into play-off contention.
Port Vale 14th – December 29
The last game for Bradford City in the hectic month of December is at home to Port Vale. Port Vale’s form is the complete opposite of Tranmere’s. Five straight defeats has seen Vale slide back to mid-table but they are a tricky side. Veteran forward Tom Pope is still a dangerous customer. Not an out-and-out goalscorer, Pope is adept at the dark arts of football, hampering the defence and hustling the game. Former Bradford striker Eoin Doyle described Port Vale as “a tough and physical and a side who get amongst opponents to rough them up”.
McCall is Urging His Players to Fight for Every Point
The Bantams are at their lowest league position since 2011. While Stuart McCall is urging his team not to panic, he knows there is a desperation for points.
Speaking ahead of the trip to Carlisle McCall said: “We have to scrap and fight for every ball, tackle, goal and point. Once you get a good result and maybe knit a couple together, the confidence grows.
“Of course, we’re all hugely disappointed to be where we are at the table. But if takes a month or two, however long, we will get there.”