By Tony Leighton
Rotation seems to have taken over from having a settled side at many football clubs, but Bradford City are bucking the trend and to good effect as they adapt to life in Sky Bet League 1 following promotion via the League 2 Play-Offs.
In their seven league outings to date Phil Parkinson's team have had no fewer than nine ever-presents, all of them having played a significant role in last season's fantastic run to the Capital One Cup Final as well as the successful promotion drive, and each of them now performing well at the higher level.
The Bantams have a points tally of 12 from seven games, putting them just one point below the Play-Off places as the table begins to take shape, and manager Parkinson told football-league.co.uk: "We've got a lot of players who've not played at League 1 level before so the way we've started the season is pleasing.
"We brought in a number of new players in the close season, but I said that we would give the lads who got us over the finishing line to promotion a chance to show what they can do in League 1 and they've all done well.
"We've now got some good players waiting in the wings though, so the lads who have got the shirts at the moment know they've got to keep up their standards."
Parkinson's men set extremely high standards last season, when their exploits in the Cups meant that they played an incredible 64 games in all competitions.
They will not match that number this term as they are already out of the Capital One Cup - Round 1 losers to Championship side Huddersfield Town after going down to Premier League Swansea City in February's Final - and also out of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy via a First Round defeat at League 2 Hartlepool United.
The comparative lack of fixtures may help the Bantams in terms of their League 1 progress, having stuttered more than once during their match-strewn 2012/13.
Parkinson said: "We had tremendous Cup runs last season and really enjoyed them, but there's no doubt that our league form did suffer at times.
"I wouldn't swap anything about a fantastic season for us, though. The exposure we got, the revenue the Cup runs brought in and the invaluable experience it gave the players in pressure situations all helped in us finally getting promoted."
While Bradford have continued to prosper since being promoted, last year's League 2 champions Gillingham, who the Bantams face on Saturday, have found points hard to come by and are lying second-bottom with just three points.
Parkinson is not, however, viewing the trip to face Martin Allen's Gills as anything but a tough away-day.
"Gillingham did the double over us last season," noted the Bantams boss, "and Martin's done a very good job there.
"I know Martin well from working with him at Reading and whenever we've come up against each other as managers it's always been a very competitive game. Saturday will be no different, I'm absolutely certain of that.
"They're a lot lower than us in the league at the moment, but it's far too early to say what teams are going to do over the course of the season. I'm just enjoying the challenge in a very competitive division, and long may that continue."
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