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Parkinson ready for the new challenge

1 August 2013

City boss Phil Parkinson hopes his side can lay down a marker this Saturday as they prepare to make their League 1 return at Bristol City.

Parkinson's men begin their Sky Bet League 1 campaign at Ashton Gate knowing that opponents Bristol City, who were relegated from the Championship just last season, will most probably be the bookies' favourites for the points.

This doesn't trouble Parkinson too greatly, however, with the Bantams boss pointing to the fact that City have recent experience of coping well on the big occasion.

With the Bantams in a new division for the first time since 2007 though, Parkinson is believes Saturday's opener will certainly give his side a good idea about what League 1 will be all about for them this season.

Parkinson said: "Pre-season has gone well and we're all ready now, we're ready for action. 

"I feel that Bristol City away is an exciting match for us to look forward to. They will offer us a good challenge. We will be going to a club where the expectancy will surely be that they will be challenging up at the top end of the table this season.

"We can go there and look to express ourselves, perhaps feel our way into the division a little.

"Just to be clear though, we won't be going there to sit back and let them dictate the game to us.

"We have a team full of players who got used to playing on big stages last season.

"I said to the players after our cup games that playing in those sort of occasions would benefit them greatly in the long term and I still genuinely believe that going into this season.

"This group of players have coped so well in the past and I expect them to do it again this Saturday."

The opening day of any new league campaign is always eagerly-anticipated by fans up and down the country, with this weekend's set of games sure to be no different.

City's trip to Bristol may have been circled in the calendars of a lot of Bradford followers for the last month or so but Parkinson is keen that his players play the game and not the occasion.

The Bantams boss knows his team will be eager to impress in a new division but he feels they must get the balance right.

Parkinson added: "It is the first game of the season but it is a normal game, ninety minutes long with three points up for grabs.

"Obviously with it being the first game of the season, there is always that added little bit of interest on it. But we have to make sure we are committed but calm at the same time.

"We spoke to the lads about this so many times last season. Playing in these sort of big games, everyone knows you'll be up for it. But you have to marry that commitment and passion with composure and calmness, especially when in possession of the ball.

"I think we played at our best last year when we got that balance just right."

Andy Gray with his broken arm suffered in the Guiseley pre-season game is City's only confirmed absentee. Luke Oliver isn't likely to be in contention after only just making his return from long term injury in Tuesday's friendly at Harrogate Town.

Fresh from completing his move to City on Thursday, new central defender Matt Taylor should be available to feature, however, once all his F.A and Football League clearances have been received by the club.

Fellow recent recruit Raffaele De Vita is back in training after a thigh problem and could also make the trip to Bristol.

With Jason Kennedy and Mark Yeates the only other arrivals through the doors at Valley Parade this summer, Parkinson's line up at Ashton Gate is expected to feature several of the players who helped City to promotion out of League 2.

Parkinson added: "We pretty much have the same options to us as we had last year really - the make-up of the squad is quite similar. We have the blueprint from last year and we've been trying to piece one or two extra people into that.

"I'm pleased that we have roughly the same group from last season and I'm pleased with the group we have here in general. I feel we have a good balance of hungry young players and one or two more experienced older heads."

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