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HUGHES HOPES TO START FESTIVE PERIOD STRONGLY

22 December 2022

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Mark Hughes expects his Bantams “to make a real statement” on Boxing Day, as City begin a busy festive fixture schedule against Carlisle United.

The Bantams return to Sky Bet League Two action against the Cumbrians, looking to “end another record”, returning to winning ways and leapfrogging their opponents on Monday. 

Hughes shared his frustration at the lack of game time his players have had over the course of December, as sub-zero temperatures disrupted City’s schedule again last Saturday.

However, the Welshman admits his side are "raring to go" and ready to perform ahead of a stacked festive period. 

He said: “It is a real chance to make a statement.

“We are unfortunate in the sense that we had two results go against us and then two fixtures postponed that could have put us back on track. We have taken a step back, but we hope to go two steps forward.

“We have beaten teams we have struggled against in the past this season, so it is another opportunity to do that on Boxing Day, at a place we have not won at since 1985. 

“Of course, we have to go to Carlisle, which is not ideal, but we will go with a strong mindset and look to address that record, which does not make for great reading.

“We had a contingency plan in case the game on Saturday did not go ahead, so the lads have put some decent work onto the grass. It was disappointing for the players, because we all wanted to get back playing. 

“We have not lost any significant amounts of fitness. That will not be the issue. The only downside at the minute is the lack of game time; the players have missed that regular schedule.

“We will look to change that and get the players used to that repetition of playing again. Of course, that will be addressed because we have three games in the space of seven days. 

“The games are in quick succession, so very quickly we can accumulate nine points in a week and that would be great for us. 

“We have already beaten Harrogate and Salford this year, who we have had poor records against, but have also lost to them too, so it is about building on what we have learnt and making sure we are ready.

“We are all raring to go. We just want to get out there and start performing again.”

Hughes is excited for another Boxing Day encounter, on what he believes is a “great date” in the football calendar, and hopes the 1,100-plus travelling City supporters have something to celebrate on Monday.

With a return to the University of Bradford Stadium three days after against Harrogate Town, the Bantams boss hopes a convincing performance against Paul Simpson’s Carlisle can give them the confidence they need to bounce back in BD8.

Hughes is pleased with the work his players have put in during their enforced break in games, and is desperate to get back on track at Valley Parade.

He added: “It is not just another game for us. Boxing Day games always have good atmospheres. 

“Sometimes, the crowds may be a little muted because of over indulgence on Christmas Day, but that will not affect the players. We have to get our heads down and get our job done.

“We are looking forward to it. It is a great date in the football calendar. It is a long trip to Carlisle, but we are looking to make it worth our while.

“Ideally, we can go into those home fixtures on the back of a good performance against Carlisle. Hopefully, we are in good spirit come Thursday.

“We have said many times that we need to start taking advantage of playing at home. We need to make a strong impression again, and get back on track.

“I have been really pleased with how we have trained. We have not played, of course, but the work leading up to the games has been really good, and we are just ready to go now. 

“We are in a decent position in the league, and want to have a really good second half of the season. 

“We are well placed, and despite a few setbacks, are still capable of achieving what we want to achieve this year.”

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