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Saturday, 15 July, 2000, 11:12 GMT
Hutchings has "no complaints"
Robbie Blake
Blake has responded to his manager's criticism
Intertoto Cup preview
Bradford City v RKC Waalwijk, third round, first leg

Bradford City manager Chris Hutchings has heaped praise on the players he inherited from Paul Jewell - just weeks after threatening to sell seven of them.

Hutchings challenged Lee Mills, Robbie Blake, Isiah Rankin, Ashley Westwood, Gareth Whalley, Andy Myers and Lee Todd to improve their performances or leave Valley Parade.

City take on RKC Waalwijk at the weekend in the Intertoto Cup and Hutchings says he is delighted with the reaction of his under-achieving stars.

"There's been a fantastic reaction from every one of them. To their credit, they've picked up the gauntlet and trained to the best of their ability.

They've responded in the best possible manner. If they perform, they'll be staying
  Chris Hutchings
"I've got no complaints about the way they've played in the previous two games and the way they've trained. That's the reaction I was looking for.

"They haven't officially been placed on the transfer list, they were on a list among one or two of those who I feel under-achieved last season.

"But I've had a word with them and they've responded in the best possible manner, which I'm delighted with. If they perform, then they'll be staying at the club."

Waalwijk are likely to prove tougher opponents than FK Atlantas, the Lithuanian side City beat 7-2 on aggregate in the previous round.

Hutchings said: "They had a friendly in midweek and they won very, very comfortably.

"They have certain individuals who are technically good and they look a very good side.

"They've finished halfway up their league last season, which is the equivalent of our Premiership, so we're expecting a very, very tough game."

New signings David Hopkin, Ian Nolan and Peter Atherton could all be involved after receiving clearance to play, but Hopkin - a 2.5m acquisition from local rivals Leeds last week - has only five days training under his belt and may have to wait for his first City appearance.

"Ian, Peter and David have all got clearance so they will be available for selection," Hutchings said.

"We'll have to monitor their fitness at the end of the week because David only started with us on Monday and clearly when you're training through the week you get tired by the weekend.

"We're delighted to have them. They are three good pros who have been there, seen it and done it and they expect a lot from other people as well as themselves. It all bodes well for the future."

David Hopkin
David Hopkin may have to wait for debut

Bradford will be without defender Wayne Jacobs, who damaged ankle ligaments last weekend, and midfielder Peter Beagrie, currently recovering from an Achilles problem.

Midfielder Jamie Lawrence is expected to return from his father's funeral in Jamaica in time for the game but a late decision will be taken on whether he is included.

City's heroics in securing Premiership survival last season have left the club buzzing over the summer, but the prospect of a taste of UEFA Cup action is even more exciting.

"It would be unbelievable. It's our first year playing in the Intertoto Cup and our first real trip into Europe and we want to do well in it.

"For a club like Bradford to get into the UEFA Cup - even if it means getting in through the InterToto Cup - would be a fantastic achievement."

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10 Jul 00 |  Football
Draw could see English clash
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