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FA Cup: Team news

Bantams squad hoping to make history

Bradford City's last FA Cup quarter final might have ended in defeat to eventual winners Southampton, but this year's squad are optimistic about their chances.

They go into the clash against Reading with a recent pedigree of overcoming higher-league opposition knowing they could seal their names in the club's history.

The FA Cup is no less special for local player James Hanson than it is for Australian, James Meridith:

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Hanson focused on target of Wembley clash

Bradford striker James Hanson boasts a rags-to-riches tale fit for any FA Cup romance but his focus is firmly on the future as the Bantams aim to book their place in a Wembley semi-final on Saturday.

Hanson in action against Chelsea Credit: Press Association

The story of how Hanson rose from stacking shelves in his local supermarket to starring for his home-city club on the biggest stage has had plenty of airing in the course of his side's recent knockout heroics.

And as he prepares for the big Valley Parade quarter-final against Reading, the 27-year-old Hanson believes the time has come to put his tale of non-league toil behind him and set higher targets for himself and his club.

Ever since I started scoring goals for Guiseley in the Unibond League I had the confidence I could play at a higher level and there is no reason why both myself and Bradford can't achieve this. We've shown in recent seasons what we're made of. When I joined in 2009 we were struggling at the wrong end of League Two and since then we've gone to a League Cup final and got promotion and now this. The club is thriving at the moment and with the money the club has made from the cup runs and last year's promotion it should be a massive factor for the club in terms of how it is able to progress in the next few years.

– James Hanson, Bradford City

Hanson is the only member of the current Bradford squad to cost a transfer fee - he was snapped up for £7,500 with the fee including the guarantee of a pre-season friendly.

But Phil Parkinson's side have already emphatically proved their credentials in back-to-back wins over Premier League opposition to the extent that many are making them favourites against high-ranked opponents on Saturday.

We know there's no reason why we can't do it again after what we did against Chelsea and Sunderland but there is no doubt we are still going in as the underdogs. We're looking forward to another chance to test ourselves against higher-level opposition. They have a lot of players who have played in the Premier League so we know it is going to be a test.

– James Hanson, Bradford City

The game holds particular appeal for Bantams boss Parkinson, who made 361 playing appearances for the Royals and was voted their best ever central midfielder in an online fans' poll.

Parkinson expects to be able to recall former Chelsea defender Filipe Morais who has missed the last three games with a knee injury, while Gary Liddle is available again after suspension.

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FA Cup last four bigger for Bantams than League Cup Final

Bradford boss Phil Parkinson says reaching the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley would be a bigger achievement than their improbable march to the Capital One Cup final two years ago.

FA Cup last four bigger for Bantams than League Cup Final Credit: Press Association

The Bantams will book their place in the last four of the nation's most prestigious knockout competition for the first time in 104 years if they overcome Reading in a Saturday lunchtime kick-off at Valley Parade.

Victories over Chelsea and Sunderland have helped write another special chapter in the club's recent cup history and Parkinson is convinced it could rank as the best one yet.

Parkinson said: "The FA Cup is obviously a level above the Capital One Cup. If we can do it this time it will be the first time since 1911 and this group of players will be remembered.

"This is what being involved in football is all about, and the big teams from the Premier League will be casting very envious eyes on ourselves and Reading playing in an FA Cup quarter-final on Saturday."

Parkinson managed to protect his side's status as outsiders prior to the fifth-round win over the Black Cats and accepts it is harder to sustain the underdog mentality as the rounds go by.

And despite many neutrals expecting to see the Bantams sail through to the semi-finals, Parkinson warned that Saturday's showdown could prove even tougher than their two previous rounds.

"We are playing a team from a higher division who have been in the Premier League twice in the last nine years, and we are enjoying testing ourselves against these types of teams," added Parkinson.

"Right from the Millwall game through the Chelsea and Sunderland games we just speak to the lads about testing themselves and hoping to perform to the maximum.

"But we are under no illusions at all that to get through this game we are going to have to play probably better than we have at any point this season so far."

Former Chelsea defender Filipe Morais will face a late fitness test on a knee injury which has forced him to miss the Bantams' last three games.

Theatre production honours Bradford City fire victims

It has been an amazing year so far for Bradford City Football Club. Next month, they will play in an FA Cup quarter final for the first time in nearly 40 years. But this year marks another milestone - the 30th anniversary of the Valley Parade fire.

Theatre company FYSA Theatre is putting on a play, '56' created from the testimonies of more than 70 people.

Director Matt Stevens-Woodhead told Calendar why a preview for families of the victims on March 7 will be so special.

Bantams owner: We've got a shot at Wembley

Bradford City co-owner Mark Lawn believes the Bantams now have a real chance at getting to Wembley after they were drawn at home to Reading in the FA Cup quarter finals.

The tie pits City boss Phil Parkinson up against his former side and, despite admitting that they are still the underdogs, Lawn is confident that his manager can plot another cup upset:

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