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UNDER-18s LOOKING AHEAD TO NEW SEASON

2 September 2020

City’s under-18s squad is well into preparations ahead of the new season having returned to training almost a month ago - on Thursday August 6. 

The youth side’s final encounter of the 2019/20 Youth Alliance North East campaign was a 2-1 defeat to Grimsby Town. 

However, since the restart of phased training - which meant the new 19-man squad had to split into specifically-numbered groups with certain coaches - the Bantams have enjoyed comfortable pre-season victories. 

Mark Trueman's side have overcome Halifax Town and privately-owned Leeds academy UFCA, whilst gaining valuable experience in a defeat to Professional Development League side Sheffield United. 

Lead professional development coach Trueman has stressed how results are of lesser priority at this stage of pre-season, and is mainly focused on team chemistry and fitness levels. 

He said: “The Halifax game was just one for us, as staff, to see how the group play together, as well as getting the fitness up to scratch. 

“After the Halifax match, we played UFCA, who gave us a good challenge. 

“Then, our biggest test of the pre-season period was the game against Sheffield United. 

“We were not bothered, as such, by defeat, because we just want our players to get a good run out and be tested so they are ready for the new season. 

“Going off performances from the friendlies, I think we are prepared with regards to fitness and game time. 

“The only difference, however, is that some of the players have not played for four months, so to try and get these lads to return without injury is going to be a challenge.

“Nevertheless, we are pleased with how the preparations have gone so far and are happy to be at a place now where we have got into a routine of training and working with the players, every day.”

Another important point identified by Trueman is that of the many new faces who have joined up with the under-18s squad.

With unfamiliar personnel coming through, Trueman confessed it will take time for the team to gel, but believes that if he and his coaching staff can infiltrate the right culture and style into his players, then performances will follow. 

He noted: “Last year, we had quite a strong set of players, who all played with each other through the academy for quite some time. With this group, there are a lot of new faces from different clubs.

“Therefore, naturally, it will take a little bit longer for the chemistry to fulfill its full potential, but we are looking forward to seeing how they adapt and perform.

“We will take it forward and then, hopefully, when the time comes, we can start the season bright.” 

The Under-18s boss also believes recent academy graduates - who penned one-year professional conracts - have set a great example for the rest of the academy. 

Trueman added: “It is a great incentive for the players to see Connor Shanks, Finn Cousin-Dawson, Jorge Sikora, Kian Scales and Reece Staunton playing in the first team. 

“If the likes of these five players do not drive our lads to be the best version of themselves - and then become a professional footballer at Bradford City - then there is no other motive. 

“To see Stuart McCall putting faith into the lads by giving them an opportunity is great to see.

“However, the players have had to perform to try to impress Stuart, which again shows you have to be the best you can be to get to where you want to be. 

“Overall, I think it is great to see them progress into the first team, but I also believe it is setting a great example to the rest of the upcoming youth players.

"It shows that, if you do play well and impress, you will be given the opportunity.”

The young Bantams contest their final pre-season friendly at Woodhouse Grove this Saturday (September 5), against Middlesbrough. 


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