Phil Parkinson is backing latest capture Michael Nelson to bring an experienced head to City’s back four.

The 32-year-old centre half has joined for an undisclosed fee, thought to be in the region of £30,000, from Kilmarnock on an 18-month deal.

Nelson helped Killy lift the Scottish League Cup last season when they beat Celtic and has also won promotions with Hartlepool and Norwich.

Parkinson believes his know-how will be a key asset for the run-in, especially with Andrew Davies still at least a month away from returning.

He said: “Michael knows his way round the football pitch. He’s a strong player who wins headers and gets his blocks in and that’s what we are going to need.

“We’ve patched it together at the back and put a massive reliance on some young players. But in my heart of hearts I didn’t think that could see us through to the end of the season and we’re going to need a strong finish.

“Rory McArdle has played a lot of games and we were concerned that if he needed a break at some point, we needed an experienced head. Michael will provide that.”

City’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy campaign ended with a 4-1 defeat at freezing Crewe last night in the northern area semi-finals.

Two late goals gave the result a flattering look and Parkinson was happy with the way his makeshift side performed.

“We came up against a really good team with a completely changed line-up and took them all the way. The scoreline was an unfair reflection of the game after we went for it.

“I thought the two young lads at centre back (Curtis Good and Tom Naylor) were magnificent against a side who give you problems and on a very difficult surface.

“If we’re honest, that game probably shouldn’t have been played. Steve (Davis, Crewe manager) and I both wanted it on but it was touch and go.

“I asked the ref before the game if he’d looked at the pitch and he said he went in the afternoon when it was nice and soft. I told him he’d obviously not been out there in the last hour because it was bone hard.

“It was as difficult a surface as I can remember but I think the lads coped well. There was some good stuff.”

City, who went in front through Kyel Reid, could face a fine for not fielding six starters from their last game.

Parkinson made eight changes but said: “You can’t play players who are carrying injuries just to fulfil the criteria. We played the best team that was available to us.

“Gary Jones was probably the only player we rested. We just felt at 35 he could do with the break.”