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Bradford City starting shirt now the goal for Tyler French after pleasing first pro year for former AFC Sudbury star

With confirmation coming this week that his debut season as a professional is definitely over, Tyler French has reflected on an encouraging first year.

After clocking up more than 100 appearances with AFC Sudbury’s first team, having graduated through the club’s academy, the versatile defender signed a two-year contract with Sky Bet League Two Bradford City in May 2019.

The Long Melford-raised 21-year-old ended the coronavirus-curtailed season playing on loan at National League strugglers AFC Fylde.

Tyler French joined League Two Bradford City from AFC Sudbury last summerPicture: Bradford City FC
Tyler French joined League Two Bradford City from AFC Sudbury last summerPicture: Bradford City FC

His four appearances (three starts) at the Lancashire club - from a switch at the start of February which he revealed he instigated - came after making three appearances for Bradford, including two as asubstitute in League Two.

“My first season was always going to be one for learning, finding my feet and settling in which I did quicker than I expected. But I really enjoyed my first year,” he told the Free Press.

“Unfortunately it’s been cut short but now the focus is just on next season and earning my place in the Bradford team.”

FOOTBALL - Sudbury AFC v Mildenhall Town ..Pictured: Tyler French (S)....PICTURE: Mecha Morton. (36396503)
FOOTBALL - Sudbury AFC v Mildenhall Town ..Pictured: Tyler French (S)....PICTURE: Mecha Morton. (36396503)

One of the standout memories for French came in pre-season when he was thrust into the spotlight in a charity friendly match with Liverpool in front of a crowd of 25,000 at Valley Parade.

Put on for the second half at 3-0 down he was tasked with marking Champions League-winning hero Divock Origi. But his courageous display as the Bantams prevented any further goals in a 3-1 defeat earned him the man-of-the-match award.

“It was surreal to be part of, especially as a Liverpool fan,” he said. “I was playing against players I idolise and look up to who had won the Champions League just a few months beforehand. Getting the man of the match was a nice touch.”

The former Long Melford and Hadleigh United youth player was rewarded with his competitive debut on August 13, starting at home to higher-league Preston in the Carabao (EFL) Cup.

“We lost (4-0) but they were a very good team from the Championship and just knowing you can handle yourself in games like that gives you real confidence,” said French, who went on to play in the Leasing.com (EFL) Trophy at Bolton Wanderers and at home to Manchester City Under-21s the following month.

October 5 saw the special moment arrive in the 83rd minute when he made his Football League debut in the 2-1 home win with Swindon, while he scored his first professional goal in the 2-1 home defeat to Rochdale in the EFL Trophy on November 12.

With the unweighted points-per-game table, following this week’s EFL meetings, having seen Bradford miss out on a play-off spot by two positions, French’s mind is now set on helping the team achieve promotion in 2020/21.

And he believes his loan spell in the National League will have helped his chances of getting into February-appointed manager Stuart McCall’s backline.

“I instigated it purely for the game time and wanting to show the new gaffer what I can bring for his plans going forward,” he said.

“It was another massive learning curve and has only made me a better player.”

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