PHIL Parkinson has told Aaron Mclean that he has to earn his City place on form, not reputation.

The striker has had a slow start to the campaign after missing the whole of pre-season with a calf injury.

He scored the winner at Morecambe but has so far failed to nail down a regular starting slot alongside James Hanson.

Parkinson believes the frontman he brought in to replace Nahki Wells has had the chances to have staked his claim – and insists he has to do more.

The City boss said: "I think Aaron's got to fight for his place now. We've got to keep topping up with bits of fitness work but he's had starts against Crawley, Oldham and Leeds, so he's had as much (game time) as anybody.

"It's now up to him that every time he's on the pitch he plays to stay in the team.

"We've got other players and not done too bad. There's competition at the top end of the pitch. Aaron is competing on a level playing field with everyone else.

"He's had spells, like Crawley away when he did well for 45 minutes, and Morecambe, when he came on and scored.

"His game is about work-rate and closing down and playing with a physical edge. Every time he comes on, whether it's five minutes at the end or 60 minutes from the start, we want him to play like that and give us a selection problem."

Mason Bennett has partnered Hanson for the last three games, although he struggled to make an impression against Yeovil – like the rest of the team.

Billy Clarke did well in that support role for the City target man in the opening-day win over Coventry, so Parkinson stressed that Mclean has a battle on his hands.

He said: "There are going to be different partnerships anyway. We're coming into another run of games, so we're going to be doing that up there.

"We played (Oliver) McBurnie and Mclean at Oldham, which was difficult for Olly because it was his first game. I think we've got options.

"Hanson's scored five goals, so he's grabbed hold of the shirt and said 'I'm going to keep it.' The one who plays alongside him tomorrow has got to do the same."

Parkinson, meanwhile, is considering whether to dip into the loan market after confirming that Matty Dolan will be out for a fortnight.

The midfielder damaged a muscle in his hip after twisting awkwardly during the warm-up before last Saturday's game. But Filipe Morais was able to train again yesterday.

Parkinson said: "We've seen Mez (James Meredith) can play that role and so can Filipe. We have got options but obviously we've got a busy period coming up."