BRADFORD City will be looking to bounce back from Saturday’s unlucky defeat against Burton Albion, as they face arguably their biggest test in over a decade this evening.
The Bantams travel to Premier League Wigan in the Capital One Cup this evening, and the 5,000 travelling City fans could well outnumber their Lancastrian opponents on their own turf.
Captain Ricky Ravenhill is unavailable for the tie following his contentious red card against Burton. Central defensive pairing Luke Oliver and Andrew Davies are unavailable after both being injured at the weekend, while Gary Jones is out with a virus. When added to Kyel Reid’s long-term groin injury, City have arguably this season’s four best performers and their captain unavailable, but defender Rory McCardle remains optimistic about his team’s chances, and the Northern Ireland international hopes to take inspiration from his country’s heroic draw against Portugal earlier this month.
He said: “You never know what will happen in a one-off game. Just look at what we did against Portugal a few weeks ago. That was a great night. We played so well and, to be fair, the lads were disappointed not to win.
“That shows how well we defended. Portugal were always going to have most of the ball but we had a game-plan and the formation worked. We also had a huge belief and a 1-1 draw showed what can be achieved if everyone is together.”
Despite City’s rotten luck with injuries and suspensions, 10-goal Nahki Wells could return to the squad following his one-game ban, but with City likely to play a long-ball game and frustrate the opposition, it remains to be seen whether manager Phil Parkinson prefers playing James Hanson as the lone striker.
Leeds United will also take on Premier League opposition this evening, as moneybags Southampton come to Elland Road this evening.
Leeds, who beat Everton in the last round, will assess the fitness of Rodolph Austin and Lee Peltier ahead of kick-off against the seventh biggest-spending team in Europe, and assistant manager Mick Jones is backing out-of-form Argentine Luciano Becchio to puncture the Saints’ cup bid.
He said: “All Luciano has to do is keep doing the same things over and over and over and the end result will be a goal. And like all strikers, when they score a goal, they then start believing they will score another one. It is a little bit of confidence more than anything else.
“This is only the early part of the season and there is a long way to go yet and I am certain, given all the games left in the season, I think people will see that Becchio is up there with the top scorers in this league.”
While the saga of the takeover bid continues, boss Neil Warnock is on the hunt for reinforcements to his squad as he hopes to get his 11th-placed side back into the playoff hunt.
Jones added: “The one part of the team that does concern us more than anything else is the lack of pace up front. That is the one area that myself, the manager and Ronnie Jepson have all talked about over the weekend.
“At this moment in time, we are looking for an established player who is maybe early-twenties who has scored a lot of goals and is maybe going to be a free transfer.”
Elsewhere, Manchester City full-back Micah Richards looks set to be out for two months after twisting his knee against Swansea at the weekend, which leaves the Eastlands club without all three of their recognised right-backs.
Referee Mark Clettenberg will be investigarted by the FA following allegations from Chelsea that he used inappropriate language to their players during their defeat to Manchester United on Sunday.
And finally... Football can be a painful business, as Oxford United defender Adam Chapman knows all too well, after he helped his side to a victory over Wycombe, despite suffering a burnt nipple the previous evening.
The 22-year-old played through the pain on Saturday after rushing to hospital the previous evening, when he spilt boiling milk on his chest.
Boss Chris Wilder told BBC Radio Oxford: “Adam Chapman, like this good dad he is, was making his baby some milk and he managed to shake the bottle up and down, but he didn’t put the lid back on properly.
“He’s burnt all his nipple. It’s an unusual injury, but he’s managed to play the game. We talk about injuries and what I have to go through in this job.”