Bantams finally starting to look the part under boss Parkinson
ANY League Two manager who can lose senior players as important as centre-backs Luke Oliver and Andrew Davies and winger Kyel Reid, and still have his team pushing for promotion, must have some serious ammunition available.
And Bradford City boss Phil Parkinson has exactly that.
Of course it's about time that the biggest and best-supported club in League Two got its act together.
But saying it and doing it have been very different things for the Bantams in recent seasons.
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Under former Colchester, Hull and Charlton manager Parkinson, City finally look like being in the shake-up.
It'll probably be at Valley Parade, in front of those five-figure crowds, where they will build their challenge.
They have conceded only six goals in 10 home games so far.
Without injured pair Oliver and Davies, Parkinson has had to rebuild his defence, and experienced has become an even more important commodity.
He's certainly got in goal, with 35-year-old former Sheffield United, Burton and Hull 'keeper Matt Duke.
Ex-Sheffield Wednesday, Rochdale and Aberdeen stopper Rory McArdle knows his way around, but Parkinson introduced 19-year-old Aussie Curtis Good alongside him for last weekend's 1-1 FA Cup draw with Brentford.
Likely full-backs are ex-Liverpool scholar Stephen Darby and James Meredith, who's played for Derby, Shrewsbury and York.
Nowhere has Parkinson more options than in midfield. He recently signed young West Ham winger Blair Turgott and Watford youngster Craig Forsyth on loan.
He also has former Rochdale stalwart Gary Jones, 35, ex-Hull winger Will Atkinson and Ritchie Jones (Hartlepool, Oldham) available.
But Parkinson may stick with experienced duo Ricky Ravenhill (Doncaster, Grimsby, Darlington, Notts Co) and Garry Thompson (Morecambe, Scunthorpe), with support from Nathan Doyle, whom he picked up from Barnsley last summer.
United will be pleased that pacy winger Reid, who caused them no end of trouble last season, is sidelined.
But Parkinson was still in a position last weekend where he could 'rest' his 14-goal leading scorer Nahki Wells and go with the well-travelled Alan Connell and James Hanson (see Opposition Watch, left) up front.
Ex-Ipswich trainee Connell, now 29, followed his first spell at AFC Bournemouth with a year at Plainmoor in 2005-2006.
He scored a goal every other game here, without ever becoming a terrace favourite, but you can hardly argue with his record since for Hereford, Brentford, Grimsby and Swindon.
Hoping for places on the bench will be home-grown youngsters Adam Baker and Carl McHugh, striker and defender respectively.