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Many young players go out on loan to lower league clubs and don’t succeed, but Josh Cullen has proved himself as a mainstay for Bradford City after spending a 18 months on loan from West Ham. The Republic of Ireland Under 21 international, who has a year left on his contract at his parent club, has impressed in central midfield with his composed displays week in, week out.
Born near Southend, Cullen began his career at West Ham, making his debut in the Europa League in July 2015 against Lusitanos. He would also make a Premier League appearance, against Liverpool, before joining Bradford in February 2016 on a month’s loan, which was extended in March until the end of the season. He quickly became an important part of the team, playing fifteen of a possible eighteen league games after joining. He would return to West Ham at the end of the season.
Cullen rejoined Bradford in August 2016, on a five-month loan. He scored his first professional goal against MK Dons, and his loan was extended in January until the end of the season. His performances have not gone unrewarded, winning the players’ player of the year, plus several other awards, at Bradford. A call up to the Republic of Ireland U21’s shows the extent of his improvement. Despite being born in England and having played for England’s Under 16’s, Cullen qualifies for Ireland through his grandmother. Cullen scored his first international goal for the U21’s against Andorra, and was handed the captaincy in a recent 1-0 win over Kosovo.
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Strengths & Weaknesses
Playing in a box-to-box role requires attributes across the board, and Cullen has already shown remarkable levels of composure and maturity for his age. His reading of the game is excellent, and his six assists this season reflects a more inventive side that perhaps Bradford fans would like to see a bit more of.
As a midfielder, Cullen may be expected to find the net a bit more often, but this shouldn’t detract from his supreme positioning. Still only 21, Cullen must keep improving as a player, as consistency is key to playing higher up the leagues. There is no doubt he has the ability, but he must hone and replicate his performances in order to reach his true potential.
What They Say
Stuart McCall – Bradford Manager
“He has an old head on young shoulders. He is a great talker in the dressing room and a fantastic professional.”
Phil Parkinson – ex-Bradford Manager
“Josh is a very, very good player.”