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Danny Leadbitter is back as Torquay United seek revenge on Bradford

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 08, 2012

Danny Leadbitter comes in at right-back for Torquay United today PICTURE: Dan Mullan/Pinnacle

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Apart from the chance to force their way back into the League Two play-off zone, the whiff of revenge is in the air as an incentive for Torquay United to beat Bradford City at Valley Parade this afternoon (3pm).

The Gulls' fellow promotion hopefuls, who have just been thrown out of the FA Cup, were one of two teams to do the double over them last season, the Bantams' 2-1 win at Plainmoor in February halting a charge up the table and stopping United moving into second place at the time.

Gillingham also beat Martin Ling's men home and away in 2011-2012, and the current leaders have already been defeated at Plainmoor this season.

"Bradford did the double over us last year, and we were poor on both occasions. It would be good to put that right," said Ling.

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There is another link between today's game and the corresponding fixture last season – in October 2011 Danny Leadbitter replaced Joe Oastler at right-back.

That decision was taken at half-time, after Oastler had been booked during a difficult afternoon against City winger Kyel Reid. Today Leadbitter comes in for the suspended Oastler from the start.

It is likely to be United's only change from the team which has beaten York away 2-0 and Dagenham & Redbridge at home 2-1 in their last two matches.

Former Newcastle United starlet Leadbitter, 22, came in for Oastler during another suspension this October, and Ling said: "Danny took over from Joe against Gillingham then, and we won that game.

"Danny needed to be a real threat to Joe this season, and he's done that.

"He's convinced me that he's very good cover for Joe now, to the point where Joe had to be patient, the last time he came out, before he got his place back. I'm comfortable with either player at right-back."

Bradford's Reid will be absent through injury, and City manager Phil Parkinson has other long-term casualties in centre-backs Luke Oliver and Andrew Davies.

But his squad, two places (sixth) and one point ahead of Torquay, is still impressively strong. Parkinson has even been able to leave 14-goal leading scorer Nahki Wells on the bench for the last two matches, favouring former Gulls striker Alan Connell alongside centre-forward James Hanson.

Today is their 30th match of the season – that's more than all the other 91 clubs in the Premier or Football League.

They were in all four competitions open to them until they were expelled from the FA Cup yesterday, for fielding on-loan Newcastler defender Curtis Good in last weekend's 1-1 draw with Brentford without registering him before the required deadline.

City have still just embarked on a programme of nine games in 33 days, and next Tuesday night they face the little matter of Arsenal at home in the Capital One Cup.

Torquay United (from): Poke, Rice; Leadbitter, Saah, Downes, Nicholson, Easton, Craig, Bodin, Jarvis, Stevens, Howe, Lathrope, MacDonald, Cruise, Thompson, Yeoman, Halpin, McKenzie, Baker.

Unavailable: Mansell, Oastler (both suspended), Morris, Macklin (both injured).

United have arranged their St Luke's Devon Bowl quarter-final away to holders Buckland Athletic for Wednesday, January 16 (7.45pm).

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