Matt Taylor’s side are just a point off the top three having lost only one league game so far this season, and are quietly rebuilding after last year’s latest play-off heartbreak.
Their latest academy products, including Joel Randall and Josh Key, have helped them recover and build an 11-match unbeaten run which they will look to extend to a round dozen in West Yorkshire.
Exeter haven’t tasted defeat on the road in League Two this term, albeit drawing five of the six, but there are few tougher away assignments in the fourth tier than Valley Parade.
Bradford are yet to hit their groove though, particularly at home where they used to be so formidable but have won just two of nine.
After a trio of scoreless defeats, the Bantams gave themselves a much-needed boost with thrashings of Southend United and Tonbridge Angels in league and cup, but this will be the real test of whether they have turned a corner.
Winger Zeli Ismail could make a return to action for Bradford, after more than a month out with a hamstring injury. Gareth Evans (hamstring) won’t return to training until next week, and Lee Novak (calf) is also still out.
Levi Sutton will serve the final part of a three-match ban for Stuart McCall, who has plenty of fit bodies to come back into the side having given most of his regular starters the night off for Tuesday’s EFL Trophy defeat to Oldham Athletic.
Exeter have had some rough treatment on the injury front, not least in goal where Lewis Ward (ankle) and Jonny Maxted (knee) remain out, along with Nigel Atangana (achilles), Alex Fisher and Lewis Page (both hamstring).
Archie Collins and Tom Parkes were both rested for last weekend’s FA Cup victory over AFC Fylde but are expected to return, while Harry Kite picked up a knock but may be fit.
Bradford: O’Donnell; A O’Connor, P O’Connor, Staunton; Hosannah, Cooke, Watt, Wood; Pritchard; Donaldson, Clarke.
Exeter: Andresson; Key, Sweeney, Parkes, Sparkes; Taylor, Collins; Williams, Jay, Randall; Bowman.
Ones to watch
Clarke has been an influential figure since his return for a third spell at the club at the beginning of the season.
The well-travelled Irishman is a versatile option having played in midfield, up front or between the two for McCall, and it is as a striker that he has shone in recent weeks with a double in the FA Cup taking him to three goals for the season, adding to three assists.
Still only 21, Collins continues to go from strength to strength in his third season as an integral part of Exeter’s first team, playing every minute so far in League Two.
Along with Tom Parkes, he was rested for last weekend’s FA Cup game and should return refreshed and ready to make an equal impact with and without the ball, alongside Jake Taylor in midfield.
The last clash between the sides came last November on the same ground when Bradford secured a 2-0 win, ending a three-match winning run for Exeter that had gone back to 2009.
How to watch
What the managers have said
McCall hopes his side can continue the momentum they built in those Southend and Tonbridge victories and impress against more formidable opposition.
“It is up to the players to keep their form going, but they are certainly in a positive frame,” he said. “Training has been to a very good standard recently, with the lads who did not play on Tuesday.
“We were slick and sharp which was very good, and the lads look to have recharged their batteries after a few days off.
“Exeter are on very good form and have kept most of their group together from when they got to the play-off final last season. They are certainly a good footballing team and it promises to be an entertaining game.”
Taylor says that his Grecians side have embraced the opportunity provided by having this week off without a game.
“This was a chance to regroup and refresh,” he said. “The lads have trained really well this week and we have had some extra bodies back on the field. We feel we've had a really good few days preparation.”
“This is a fixture we always lookout for at the start of the season. It's a real shame that the fans won't be there as it's a great stadium and their supporters are some of the most vocal. Our away fans have always enjoyed travelling there too.
“We want to be successful this weekend and we know we have to play well.”