JAMES Hanson has been urged to prove he is City's first-choice centre forward again.

With Steve Davies the latest victim of the club's knee injury curse, Hanson will be handed a recall for Saturday's eagerly-anticipated Valley Parade clash with Wigan.

And Phil Parkinson expects to see a return of the form that has made him such a talismanic figure leading the line in City's recent history.

Parkinson said: "We've spent a lot of time as a staff talking about Hanson and having chats with him. We feel his form hasn't been good enough and we want more from him.

"We're going to do everything we can to get that and there were signs against Bury that he's getting back to his best.

"Hans has got a fight on his hands and I want to see him respond. It's as simple as that. He's had some decent games this season but recently hasn't done enough.

"We'll look at reasons for that and what we can help him with. But I want to see more fight in his body to say 'right, I've had the shirt at Bradford for a period of time and I want to get it back'.

"Steve Davies fought tooth and nail to get hold of it. But that's what competition is all about."

Hanson, City's longest-serving player, was dropped after a poor display at Colchester last month – where he missed a sitter just before the home side's opening goal.

His only start in the last four games was in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy, with Parkinson preferring Davies for the three successive league wins.

But with Davies facing a spell on the sidelines after hobbling off on Tuesday with medial ligament damage, Hanson has been presented with a fresh opportunity against the Latics.

Parkinson said: "As we said to Davo a few weeks ago, you've got to earn the right to be in the team. Hans has got to work as hard as he can to do that.

"Leaving him out before sent out a message to everybody. We've worked hard to recruit players who we feel could put pressure on our existing ones. We've done that.

"We knew with Davo it would take time because physically he wasn't where we want him to be. But he was getting there and it is such a shame that he picked up the injury.

"But he's shown Hans there is a battle on. They are both good players and get on well, which is what you want as well, but equally you've got to have that fierce competition."

Parkinson has praised his side's defensive efforts as they build up to the challenge of shackling a free-scoring Wigan.

Despite missing out on consecutive clean sheets after conceding in stoppage time, he thought they did a good job against Bury's expensive frontline.

The City boss said: "Bury have spent a lot of money in terms of investment in strikers.

"They brought in Leon Clarke and Tom Pope, two strikers who were attracting attention in the summer from a lot of League One clubs, and got the signature of them both.

"But the way the back four handled their front two was excellent. They took the performance on from Saturday."