PHIL Parkinson has five days to solve City's central-defensive predicament after their costly loss at Oldham.

Saturday's defeat against the in-form Latics, their traditional bogey side, came with a heavy price.

Rory McArdle's red card just before the end of the game has given Parkinson a major problem when they host Doncaster next weekend.

McArdle, who had played every minute of the season up to that point, will be banned – and there are still question marks over the fitness of Andrew Davies.

Christopher Routis, the obvious understudy, was also benched before half-time at Boundary Park after a torrid afternoon.

Parkinson said: "I'm annoyed with Rory. He's been a great stalwart for us and is so committed to the cause. But with Davies already out, to get sent off has now left us with a problem for next week.

"Show how much it means to you by dominating the player you're up against, not by getting sent off with 30 seconds to go.

"Davies has had an injection (to deal with his calf and back problem), so we'll have to wait and see."

Routis was taken off after just 38 minutes with City already trailing 2-0 and struggling to deal with Oldham strike duo Jonathan Forte and Jabo Ibehre.

It was a tough lesson for the Frenchman, who later apologised to the fans for his performance on Twitter.

Parkinson said: "Chris is learning the English game. He's a good lad and has done well in most games for us.

"But I spoke to him about the intensity and showed him that he's got to start games quicker. If you start slow in games like this, you're under big pressure."

Andy Halliday's goal in first-half stoppage time gave City something to cling to and they improved significantly after the break.

But that did not save them from a rollicking by the manager as Oldham stretched their own unbeaten run to 13 games with the victory.

"It was a Yorkshire and Lancashire grudge match and you can't always pass it as much as you want in any game of football," said Parkinson.

"But you can always stand up and be strong and work harder and be more committed than the opposition. I just felt physically they were ready for it and we weren't.

"It's annoying because they swarmed all over us first half and we didn't stand up to it. We got dominated by their two centre forwards in the early part of the game.

"We were fantastic against Bristol City on Tuesday and we told the lads that we had to reproduce that and more. I've asked them to do something and they haven't done it."

Parkinson was forced to abandon the two-winger format that had worked so well against the leaders and matched up Oldham's midfield diamond as the home side took control.

The City boss said: "We felt we could hurt them in wide areas with a tight midfield four, so I've got to look at myself. We did better when we changed.

"When we got the ball in and around Jon Stead in the box, I thought something would happen. I felt he was the only one up there who was fighting and punching above his weight.

"I've also got to give Andy credit. He got the goal and kept going for us. The two loan players gave us everything."