Some have wondered if young defender Reece Staunton’s chance of playing regular EFL football has passed him, but he won’t find greater support than his Bradford (Park Avenue) coach Mark Bower.
As a teenager at Bradford City two years ago, he found himself starting in a back three under Stuart McCall, and was a bright spot in a rocky start to the 2020/21 League Two campaign.
But a horrific hamstring injury against Leyton Orient in November ruined his fledgling Valley Parade career and he made just one league appearance for the Bantams thereafter.
He has since joined the Avenue of the City’s National League northern neighbors permanently, becoming a key defender for them.
And he was in superb form last weekend, part of a young back-three in a depleted side that earned an excellent goalless draw at Alfreton Town.
When asked if the 20-year-old was capable of returning to the Football League, Bower insisted: “He should return to at least League Two level.
“He just needs a regular run of games, like he’s coming here, and having those non-league bumps and bruises, which will toughen him up more.
“He’s a quality player, with a good left foot and a great attitude.
“He took a risk coming here because he could have stayed comfortable on the bench or around the City first team, but he wanted to have games here and make an impact.
“He should be back in the Football League one day, but we hope to keep him here for a while longer.”
Staunton are set to play a crucial role for Avenue again this weekend, hosting West Yorkshire rivals Farsley Celtic in the second round of the FA Trophy.
Bower rejoiced after last season’s bad luck: “We had big home cup games against Marine and Halifax in 2021 but they were canceled due to snow and fog respectively.
“They both had to reorganize for the middle of the week and it’s just not the same in terms of income for the club.
“But this weekend is an attractive derby for the fans, so there should be a decent atmosphere at Horsfall.
“It will be difficult because they have good players, but Farsley are facing a situation similar to ours last weekend, where they have a thinner team than most of our division, and they currently have a few injured guys. . ”
Rain is a form of bad weather that shouldn’t cause any problems at Horsfall, due to the artificial surface there.
Tomorrow’s cup game between the divisional and local rivals would have been a real chore if it had been on grass, and Bower said: “You look at the predictions and the game could have gone well if we had still played on grass in Horsfall.
“With constant rain on a grass surface you think where you can train, where you can play, but unless there’s snow or fog it’s not a problem on artificial turf. .
“It will also be a constant surface this weekend, whereas if the match had been played on grass, the pitch would have been very cut during the match.
“It’s good for us as a club that we don’t have to worry about rearranging training and games due to wet weather like this.”
Young defender Lucas Odunston was out injured at Alfreton but Bower expects him to return for the Farsley clash, as he hopes Luca Havern, Simon Richman, Mitch Lund and Harrison Hopper will also be back tomorrow .
. defender bradford park avenue backed for back league football