Bradford City: The youth uprising
Above: Reece Staunton in action against Huddersfield Town in pre-season (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt via Getty Images)

Bradford City have never been renowned for their usage of the youth system, with Danny Devine being the only player to have really made an impact in recent years, who's now moved onto pastures new.

Former manager Stuart McCall had a difficult task on his hands, with an underwhelming squad and the new wage cap hindering his opportunities for new additions to the squad, the Scotsman was forced to look into the Bantams youth academy, where a few gems have been discovered.

One name that has flourished in first team action this season is 18-year-old Reece Staunton, who has been a revelation amongst the backline and quickly become a fan favourite, due to his homegrown status and tremendous performances in central defence.

Staunton has so far made eight appearances for the club, and even scored his first senior goal against Exeter City just over a month ago. McCall praised Staunton for his immense versatility and how comfortable he is on the ball, saying: "He's adaptable because he can play left back, left centre half in a three and can sit in front of the back four. He's got a really good passing range."

Despite being born in his hometown of Bradford, the defender has been proud enough to represent the Republic of Ireland Under-18's, but he'll be hoping to break into the first team when he eventually returns from his injury, as his breakthrough season has been hampered by a lengthy hamstring injury.

Young Staunton isn't the only prodigy to have had a taste of first team action this campaign, as Bradford fans have also had a peak of young Kian Scales in action.

Scales made his league debut against Cheltenham Town, and was praised for his lively behaviour and positive attitude, as the attacking midfielder continues to look for a Devine-like impact on the squad. Scales even nearly found the net, but a deflection postponed his golden moment.

Finn Cousin-Dawson is another player who has had opportunities this season, after gaining experience on loan at Brighouse Town. Cousin-Dawson has made five appearances so far in League Two, ranging from central defence, right-back and defensive midfield, but has consistently looked worthy and comfortable on the ball, despite competition from more senior players.

The 18 year old isn't just a Bradford player, but also a fan, saying: "When I was a youth team player, I’d come to watch the games and you’d normally have 15,000 plus. It is a bit weird having such a big stadium empty but we can’t let that affect us as a team. We’ve got to go out and put on a performance for those watching on iFollow.”

Youngsters such as Jorge Sikora and Connor Shanks have also had glimpses, but are yet to make a league appearance.

With the names coming through and breaking into the first team at Valley Parade, fans and management alike (whoever it may be) have reasons to be excited in anticipation of the quality of homegrown talent currently on show in West Yorkshire.

The most important addition right now is that the Bantams protect their investments, and help nurture the growth of these young talents and not sell them on to damage their own chances of finding the sort of stature of club they once were.

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