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One to savour

22 August 2013

Bantams boss Phil Parkinson believes that this Saturday afternoon should be one to savour when his City side entertain Sheffield United in a Yorkshire derby at the Coral Windows Stadium.

The match, arguably City's biggest in the league on home soil in at least seven years, is expected to be viewed by anything between 15,000 and 17,000 fans at Valley Parade.

With Sheffield United's support set to account for nearly 3,000 of the estimated gate, a cracking atmosphere is predicted for the highly-anticipated League 1 fixture.

For City, Saturday's game will be the first time they will take on the Blades on a level footing at home since September 2003 when a subdued City legend Stuart McCall scored the winner for the South Yorkshire side.

Looking forward to the mouth-watering clash, Parkinson reckons this Saturday's fixture is clear evidence of the progression the club is making.

Parkinson said: "This was certainly one of the games we looked out for when the fixtures came out in the summer."

"Sheffield United are one of the bigger clubs in the league. They have been into the Play-Offs the last two seasons, and it is also a Yorkshire derby.

"It is a great game for us to look forward to and it is one that I think everyone in the club is keen to see.

"No disrepect to the teams mentioned here, but this time last season, our home matches were against AFC Wimbledon and Barnet. This year, of course, we are playing Sheffield United.

"We have to make sure that we really enjoy it. The supporters have to enjoy it as well because we have all worked so very hard to get out of League 2 so that we could have games like this Saturday's.

"It is important that we really make the most of this occasion. We will focus on what we have to do to play well and hopefully we can put in a good performance.

"Our fans will be out in numbers, I'm sure United will be bringing their support along as well, so it should be a great Yorkshire occasion.

"Our players tend to enjoy playing in front of the big crowds in our ground because there is usually a tremendous atmosphere.

"As always, the supporters will have to come on Saturday, get behind the team, and play their part. Hopefully we can reward them with a really good performance.

"Sheffield United go into most seasons with big expectations on them because they are a big club. We have our own expectations in the dressing room though. Those expectations are to maintain the levels of performance and the standards we have set over the last eighteen months."

City will head into Saturday's date with the Blades looking to bounce back after they lost at the hands of Port Vale last weekend.

Including City's three Play-Offs matches last season, the Vale defeat was only City's fourth in their last twenty-one competitive league fixtures.

Despite acknowledging that his side haven't had too much practice at having to respond to a loss in the last few months, Parkinson has no doubt that City will be firing on all cylinders come 3:00pm this Saturday.

The Bantams chief added:"We know, as much as we would love to, that we are not going to win every game. When you don't win though, it is important that you can look back at the game and say that you gave everything possible to try and gain a result.

"I honestly believe we did do that at Port Vale but, perhaps, we weren't quite at our best as a collective group for the whole ninety minutes or so.

"The other key thing after a defeat is how you respond on the training pitch the week after. The lads have trained really well and they have got last Saturday's defeat out of their system.

"We haven't been beaten too many times over the last six months, so it always hurts. But the lads have dusted themselves down and got on with their week's work."

Early season top-scorer Nahki Wells will be going for a club record of scoring in the most consecutive matches - eight - when he enters the field against Sheffield United.

The Bermudian has four in four from this season, plus he also scored in all three of the club's Play-Off games last season, meaning his strike at Vale Park last Saturday saw him reach a feat not achieved by a City player in over 51 years.

Wells' chances of making it a magical eight out of eight in competitive matches for City could hinge on the fitness of his main strike-partner James Hanson and key playmaker Mark Yeates.

Yeates and Hanson, both of whom are more than capable of creating chances for Wells and his team-mates, still remain doubtful for the visit of David Weir's side.

Hanson (fracture in his hand) and Yeates (knee) will continue to be monitored in the build up to Saturday's game, with Parkinson likely to leave it as long as possible before making a decision on the pair.

Parkinson continued: "Hanse (James Hanson) played last Saturday with it but I think you could see that it wasn't right and it did affect him.

"He has to be right to play. He has to be spot on for us to play him this week.

"We will assess everything over the next forty-eight hours.

"My job is to pick a team for Saturday that is fit and raring to go."

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