PHIL Parkinson praised Devante Cole’s growing work ethic as he put a brave face on losing another injured striker.

Steve Davies is out until the New Year after specialist Steve Bollen confirmed yesterday that his knee problem was worse than City had hoped.

Billy Clarke and Josh Morris are stepping up their recovery in training and the midfielder could feature in the squad against Wigan.

The mood going into the second half of this week’s Valley Parade double header has been lifted by the win over Bury.

Cole did not add to his five-goal tally on Tuesday but his increasing willingness to hustle defenders has been credited by Parkinson as a factor in the team’s improving run.

He said: “Devante’s really buying into the work rate we expect of him and we’ve been pleased. It’s so important that he’s got the athleticism to do that.

“He was terrific at Doncaster and then again the other night. It’s great to see.

“That’s one way to get the plaudits from the rest of your team when you play like that.

“Across football now, players have got to cover the ground. He’s so quick when he closes down that when defenders have that extra touch, he can take the ball off them.

“If you’re going to be a pressing team, it’s got to start from the front. We’ve always tried to do that.

“Billy Clarke wasn’t great at that when he first came in. But he improved as he got on with his fitness and understanding of the role we wanted him to play.

“If you get good players to work hard then that can be a winning formula.”

With Davies the latest to be consigned to a knee brace, the sight of Morris and Clarke working with the squad is well timed. But neither will be rushed back.

Parkinson added: “They are both busting a gut to play but they’ve got to be right. We don’t want to re-injure them.

“Josh just needs to get that confidence back in training where you strike the ball without thinking about it.

“It’s that transfer from the controlled rehab environment to doing things naturally in keep balls and small-sided games. But he’s trained well.”

Parkinson watched Wigan’s recent draw with Bury and anticipates another test against Gary Caldwell’s team.

“They’ve had a difficult couple of seasons but the manager is trying to get them going again,” he said.

“Wigan play three at the back and have got some good technical players in the team. We’ll have to be better than we were on Tuesday to get the win.

“You’ve always got to look to improve. They are a good side on a decent run – but so are we.

“It’s a good platform to build from after the last few games. We’re just looking to reproduce Tuesday night tomorrow.

“They will offer us different challenges but we’ll be working towards that to get the slight adaptations to give them problems.”

City will be up against veteran goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen, who spent the last week of pre-season training at Apperley Bridge.

The 40-year-old played in City’s goal for the second half of the final friendly at Burnley. But Parkinson opted not to sign him and he instead joined Wigan.

Parkinson said: “Jussi was only in with us three or four days but he was great while he was here.

“We had him in but I think he wanted to stay over that way because he lives there. Before we knew it, he’d done his deal at Wigan.”