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Parkin looking for happy homecoming

9 August 2013

City assistant Steve Parkin says the players are keen to put on a show for the fans as the Bantams get set to kick off their Sky Bet League 1 home campaign with the visit of Carlisle United tomorrow (Saturday).

After a season-opener at Bristol City last weekend and then a West Yorkshire derby with Huddersfield Town just three days later, the big matches keep coming for Phil Parkinson's men this Saturday as they prepare to play in the club's first home match at League 1 level in over six years.

With over 13,000 Season Ticket and FlexiCards having been sold for the season, a bumper crowd is expected at the Coral Windows Stadium for the Carlisle fixture, following on from the four-figure away crowds at both Bristol and Huddersfield.

The game will also be City's first meaningful fixture on home soil since that memorable day back in May when Parkinson's side secured promotion at Wembley Stadium via the League 2 Play-Off Final.

To make the afternoon even more of an occasion for some City supporters, Greg Abbott - a Bradford player for nearly ten years between 1982 and 1991 - will be in the opposition dug-out as Carlisle manager.

Parkin said: "All of the squad are looking forward to this one. It is going to be important that we show good home form this season and it would be nice to start that with a good result on Saturday.

"We had a really good performance at Bristol City last weekend, which we were delighted with, and it is now up to us to show the home fans what we are made of.

"I am sure the support, as ever, will be amazing on Saturday. The fans were truly superb down at Bristol and against Huddersfield on Tuesday night.

"We now need them to help us make Valley Parade a bit of fortress this season, starting with Saturday.

"I feel Valley Parade is now a place where the players want to play. 

"I don't think we feel any particular pressure or fear playing in front of our own fans because we have been putting in performances at home that have been full of energy and endeavour. I think that is all our fans want to see really - that effort for the shirt.

"It will be nice to play in front of the fans on Saturday after promotion as well. It will be nice to play in front of the people who drove us on and played their part in getting us into this division."

Parkinson went to see Carlisle's shock penalty shoot-out victory over Championship side Blackburn Rovers this Wednesday evening.

The morale-boosting cup triumph for the Cumbrians came just days after they suffered a heavy defeat at the hands of Leyton Orient in their league opener last Saturday.

Parkin says it is far too early into the season to be reading too much into results, with the Bantams assistant manager preparing himself for a tough afternoon regardless of Carlisle's mixed first two games.

He added: "It will be a tough game.

"Carlisle had a bad defeat last weekend but that won't cause us to take our eye off the ball one bit. We know that they had a player sent off quite early and that had a major say in the game.

"First games of any season can be difficult ones to predict. Teams are finding their rhythm and getting used to playing with different team-mates. Teams are probably not as settled or as match sharp as they were towards the end of last season.

"They (Carlisle) had a terrific result Wednesday night, so it will be a tough game, there is no doubt about that.

"I also know, however, that if we are focused then we can make it a tough game for Carlisle too.

"It is important that we are as determined as we were last weekend (vs Bristol City) and that we show the same kind of spirit. I think the spirit we showed to come from behind twice was terrific. There was a nice feeling around the camp after that one.

"There is also a nice feeling of togetherness on the training pitch and in the changing rooms.

"As we did against Bristol City, we need to transfer that onto the pitch again, this time in front of our own fans on Saturday."

After netting twice in City's opening two games of the season, the spotlight will once again be on striker Nahki Wells given his brief spell with opponents Carlisle before his move to the Coral Windows Stadium.

Given the determination and character of the Bermudian forward though, Parkin doesn't believe a date with his old employers will alter Wells' game one jot come this Saturday.

Parkin added: "To be truthful, I don't think his own link with Carlisle will register with him at all once he crosses that white line and gets ready to start the match.

"He is a very focused young man at the moment and he is enjoying his football.

"He has got off the mark in both of our games so far and he will be looking for more goals. 

"If he keeps listening to the advice he is being given from the manager and our coaching staff and keeps improving, I am sure he will get more."

If Wells has caught the eye for his goalscoring form, another Bantams player certainly impressing at this very early stage of the season is versatile performer Nathan Doyle.

Doyle played in his more natural position of central midfield against Bristol City before switching seamlessly to centre half for the Capital One Cup tie at Huddersfield on Tuesday night.

Playing well and looking sharp, Doyle is clearing benefiting from a full pre-season under the watchful eye of City's Head of Sports Science Nick Allamby.

Parkin believes Doyle, who missed out on summer training with City last year after only joining in August, is also reaping the rewards from getting a full campaign of football under his belt last season.

"Nathan has put in the hard work from the beginning of last season really and that is what is helping him now," said Parkin.

"Even though he went away for a few weeks over the summer and got married, he still looked after himself and came back in July and had a good pre-season. The benefits are there for all to see really.

"He is in good shape, as are the rest of the squad. We believe in our fitness work here and the schedule we give the players to help keep them fit. We also believe in our players' determination to carry the work through.

"I firmly believe our lads keep going right to the very end. They proved that at Bristol City and they proved that at Huddersfield the other night."

Other than Andy Gray (broken arm) and Luke Oliver, who is still short of match fitness, City's only selection issue for their homecoming match is regarding defender Rory McArdle.

After sitting out Tuesday's tie at Huddersfield due to a minor ankle injury, McArdle will need the problem assessed again ahead of Saturday's encounter to see if he is fit to play.

If McArdle is ruled out though, Matt Taylor or Carl McHugh will be in line to partner Andrew Davies in defence in his place.

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