CITY will not press Stephen Darby straight back into service if they feel he is not right.

The skipper was not involved in Tuesday's Capital One Cup exit at MK Dons – the first time he had missed out for 86 games.

Gary Liddle filled in at right back and Phil Parkinson has no qualms about keeping him in that role for Saturday's home clash with Port Vale.

Parkinson will check on Darby's groin problem today at training but has no intention of rushing his return.

"Stephen's record of playing is tremendous but it's just caught up with him a little bit over the last week or so," said the City boss.

"He's probably played with things when he shouldn't have done. He's a great captain but we just felt it was the right thing to leave him out because his groin has been getting progressively worse.

"(Head physio) Matt Barrass said to me that if we didn't give him a period of rest now, it could end up as a longer-term injury.

"We'll get Darbs on the training pitch and have a look but if he's not right, we won't risk him. I don't think we need to after you look at the way Gary played."

Versatile midfielder Liddle, who also took over the captaincy, has played as a full back for Notts County before and produced a solid display against the free-scoring Dons.

Parkinson said: "I thought he did really well. That's good for us because we obviously haven't got an out-and-out right back to play if Darbs is out.

"I know Gary has played there before. Christopher Routis also played a whole season in that position for Servette.

"It was good to see it out on the pitch. That gives us peace of mind should anything happen to Stephen going forward."

Alan Sheehan's three-game ban is now up so he adds some competition to the back four. Midfielder Matty Dolan should also be available following his hip problem.