YOUNG City striker Oliver McBurnie can toughen up away from the Valley Parade spotlight, Phil Parkinson claimed today.

The Bantams chief intends to get the teenager out on loan to a non-League team this week for his own good.

McBurnie has made eight appearances so far this season, including two starts in cup ties at Oldham and MK Dons, but is yet to score his first senior goal.

Parkinson feels that barren run has knocked the youngster's confidence – and hopes that can be rebuilt with a stint at a lower level elsewhere.

With James Hanson now back from injury and Jon Stead in again on loan, City can afford to spare McBurnie. He was not in the squad for Saturday's 2-0 loss to Sheffield United.

Parkinson said: "We've given Olly plenty of opportunities. He now needs to go and learn the harsh realities of first-team football off his own bat in non-League.

"He's gone a long time, had many opportunities and hasn't got that goal. I think it's affected him.

"We want Olly out on loan and I will be eager to get him somewhere this week.

"I haven't been able to do that (up to now) because obviously with Hanson being injured, we needed another player to be on the bench.

"Hanson's back fit and hopefully came through Saturday okay and Jon Stead's come in to add depth to the squad.

"Olly is one of our young players but the next stage of his development is to go out and play."

City head south for tomorrow's clash with League One leaders Bristol City without skipper Stephen Darby after his red card in the weekend's televised defeat to the Blades.

Darby was dismissed just 30 seconds into the second half for a tug on Jamie Murphy. But Parkinson thought referee Simon Hooper, who was surrounded by Sheffield United players urging him to take action, over-reacted by dishing out a second booking.

The Bantams boss said: "The ref has got to be bigger than that. From his position, it was on his blind-side, so he couldn't see how much contact there was anyway.

"Didn't the fourth official or linesman have any input in the decision? He could have taken his time.

"For me, it was just worth a talking to. Stephen's made two fouls in the whole game and ended up off the pitch.

"I don't know if everyone saw it different to me but that was a tough call. There was minimal contact.

"Could he not have just managed the situation? That's what refereeing is all about."

Gary Liddle deputised for Darby at MK Dons and will be available at Ashton Gate after his one-game ban, although Parkinson may be tempted to stick with Chris Routis there.

The Frenchman started in midfield to fill in for Liddle but moved to right back after Darby's exit.

Parkinson said: "Chris was a big bonus for us when he went right back with his use of the ball and ability to get forward. He's shown what we know; that he's a very versatile player."

City v Sheffield United picture gallery