Football: The prospect of reaching their first major domestic final in over a century will spur Bradford on tomorrow night when they take on Aston Villa in the first leg of their League Cup semi-final.
The Bantams’ last appearance on the hallowed turf in a marquee final was way back in 1911 when they defeated Newcastle United to win the FA Cup.
The Yorkshiremen, currently in League Two, have been punching above their weight throughout the competition, having defeated Premier League clubs in Wigan and Arsenal en route to a spot in the last four.
Bradford have already played a staggering 37 matches in all competitions so far this season and their form has stuttered of late, with two defeats and a draw in their last three matches.
But Aston Villa will nonetheless be wary of their opponents, particularly given their own recent run of poor form.
The Villans beat Ipswich in the FA Cup on Saturday, but hitherto had lost three of their last four matches, shipping an incredible 17 goals in the process.
Villa Park manager Paul Lambert is unsurprisingly eager to reach Wembley, a feat he says would be the greatest achievement of his managerial career to date.
He said: “I never look at it like that on my own behalf. It’s for the players and fans. I never look at myself and think: ‘I’m going to do that,’ because it’s irrelevant.
“The most important thing is the club and the players and for us to get to Wembley again would be extraordinary.
“In a one-off game there you never know what might happen. I think every player would tell you that to get there would be phenomenal.”
Such sentiments would surely be echoed by the everyone associated with Bradford, though the Bantams’ run has already played a hugely significant role in the club’s immediate future.
The two televised semi-final legs against Villa will bring in a £1 million windfall which will prove crucial as they fight to stave off the threat of administration.
Bradford winger Kyel Reid and defender Carl McHugh could return to the starting line-up tomorrow evening.
Reid, who returned from a two-and-a-half week lay-off due to a groin injury in mid-December, has been used sparingly by manager Phil Parkinson in recent weeks, while McHugh returned to the substitutes’ bench in Saturday’s league defeat at Barnet following a calf strain.
Darren Bent will hope to keep his place in the Villa starting XI after scoring against Ipswich, though Christian Benteke is expected to be recalled. Gabby Agbonlahor is fit again, but Marc Albrighton (foot) could miss out.
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