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Parkinson pleased for Oliver

31 July 2013

Bantams boss Phil Parkinson was understandably pleased to see Luke Oliver take a big step forward on his road to recovery during Tuesday night's friendly at Harrogate Town.

Oliver made his first appearance in nearly nine months as a second half substitute at Harrogate's CNG Stadium after being sidelined since the back end of last October due to a snapped Achilles tendon picked up at Burton Albion.

The popular defender's return, which was greeted by a tremendous round of applause from City's travelling support, came as a Bantams XI lost the friendly 2-1 to their hosts for the Blue Square Bet North.

Speaking after the game, Parkinson couldn't hide his pleasure at seeing City's towering centre half back on the pitch, but warned that the defender still has a bit more to go before he can be considered for first-team matches.

The Bantams chief said: "He has worked so exceptionally hard to get back to this stage. We gave him about half an hour tonight (Tuesday) and I thought he did well.

"He played the game properly and didn't try just to coast through it. He won a few headers and was nice and physical because that is what he is all about.

"It was certainly a good move in the right direction for Luke to play in this game.

"We just have to make sure that we look after him now.

"We have to give him the right amount of match minutes at the right time to make sure that when Luke Oliver is back in contention for the first team, we've got the Luke Oliver back that we had before his injury.

"He still has a lot of work to do on the training pitch, he knows that, but his progression over the last few months has been good. The reason it has been so good is because he works so hard and he is determined to get back match sharp.

"He is physically fit once again but he still needs to go a bit further before he is ready to be in league games just yet."

Although the Harrogate game gave Oliver a chance to make his welcome return to action, this Tuesday's pre-season encounter with the Blue Square Bet North side was arranged primarily to give some of Parkinson's squad members more match minutes under their belts.

Carl McHugh, Kyel Reid, Alan Connell, Michael Nelson, Jason Kennedy and Ricky Ravenhill all started in City's XI against a hard-working and competitive Harrogate side.

Pictures kindly provided by Claire Epton

Parkinson added: "It was a good challenge for us. Harrogate are a good side and they were clearly up for the game. 

"If you go through our side, Carl McHugh had a dead leg against Guiseley and never really recovered from it, so he needed to play, Mickey Nelson is another who needed to play tonight. Ricky, equally, is someone else who has picked up an injury this pre-season and needed another game. 

"Al (Alan Connell), Jason (Kennedy) and Reidy also needed the minutes - that is why we sorted out this fixture."

Despite having his transfer to City confirmed this Tuesday afternoon, Raffaele De Vita did not feature against Harrogate after Parkinson decided not to risk the Italian due to a recent thigh problem.

The Bantams boss did reveal that De Vita has returned to training now, however, and is in contention for City's forthcoming away league and cup double-header against Bristol City and Huddersfield Town.

Parkinson continued: "We just felt tonight was maybe a bit too early for him.

"He has trained today though. His injury has been nothing too major, just a slight issue.

"He should be available to us for the next two games.

"He's a great lad, he's committed and he has quality as well, so I think he will be a good signing for us."

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