Bradford City vs Newport County preview: Both sides look to rediscover form
Newport boss Michael Flynn is returning to Valley Parade for the first time since ending his four years of service as a Bradford player in 2012. Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images.

Bradford City will go in search of their first win in over a month when they welcome Newport County to Valley Parade.

While Newport have at least had cup success to celebrate – securing progress to the third round of the FA Cup for the fourth time in five years – it’s been a less joyful period for the Bantams.

They have lost in the top national competition to Shrewsbury in a first-round replay, gone out of the EFL Trophy without a win and had only a point at Macclesfield to show for their league efforts in the past two weeks.

Despite that, they remain inside the League Two play-off places, but the drop in form has been more pronounced for Newport. The Exiles have slipped from the automatic promotion places to four points outside the play-offs, having picked up only a point since mid-October.

The cup has brought joy, as it so far often does in that patch of South Wales, but the top aim is promotion after last season’s play-off final heartbreak and Michael Flynn will want his side to start rediscovering their league form when they head to a club he once played for and captained.

Team news

Bradford, who are joint-top of the home table this season having taken 19 points from a possible 27, hope to have midfielder Callum Cooke back after missing their Macclesfield trip with a knock.

Fellow midfielder Matty Palmer will, along with forward Shay McCartan, undergo a late fitness test ahead of the clash. Clayton Donaldson, Jordan Gibson and Jamie Devitt are long-term absentees.

Newport hope to have Mark O'Brien back for the trip to West Yorkshire, while fellow defender Mickey Demetriou is said to be nearing a return having been out since August with a broken leg.

Kyle Howkins remains out for the next couple of weeks at least following the horror head clash in their FA Cup win at Maldon & Tiptree, while Scot Bennett, Robbie Willmott, Joss Labadie and Keanu Marsh-Brown have all missed the last two matches due to injury. Dan Leadbitter and Ade Azeez are also out.

What the managers have said

It will be a special occasion for former Bantams skipper Flynn, who says he will be returning to his old ground for the first time since swapping Bradford for Newport at the end of four years’ service in 2012.

He said: “It will be my first time back at Valley Parade. For one reason or another, since I moved back down I haven’t been able to get back up, but I’m really looking forward to (it).

“We’ve lost the last few in the league but let’s not forget where we’re at. We’ve had ten out injured, missing big players from near enough the start of the season, yet we’ve still got some fantastic results.

“It’s not all doom and gloom. Yes, we want to win every game, but it’s not for a lack of effort. We don’t get too down; we try to rectify a bad result and it shows how far we’ve come that we’re disappointed to lose a league match.”

Opposite number Gary Bowyer said: “There is never a game where we just have to turn up, and that doesn’t matter who you’re playing against or where they are in the league. We’re aware of the challenge that lies ahead on Saturday, they’ve got some vastly experienced players."

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