STEPHEN Darby welcomed James Hanson’s scoring return to City’s attack and declared: “It was only a matter of time.”

Hanson netted his fourth goal of the season in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Wigan to maintain his side’s unbeaten October in the league.

Skipper Darby believed it was the perfect response after the big striker had lost his starting spot to Steve Davies.

With Davies out for up to three months with a knee injury, Hanson answered Phil Parkinson’s demand to seize the opportunity.

Darby said: “We’re delighted for Hans because he deserved his goal. It was a great performance from him.

“It shows that when you’re out the side, if you keep your head down and do the right things then it’s only a matter of time before it pays off again.

“But credit to the other lads who’ve had the shirt as well. We’re gutted for Steve Davies with his injury because he’s been brilliant for us.

“You look at the five strikers and it’s a pleasure to have them here. It shows the competition we have now at the club.”

Billy Clarke is pushing for some involvement against Millwall on Saturday after ten weeks out. Midfielder Josh Morris, who trained with him on the Valley Parade pitch, is also likely to be in the squad.

Parkinson confirmed both will be in his plans for the next game after putting them through a “mini pre-season” at the end of last week.

He is also expecting another full-on display from Hanson against the club who tried repeatedly to sign him in the summer.

Parkinson said: “We need Hans to be right at his best and I’m not going to accept it if he’s not. He’s such a good player and Saturday showed it.

“I thought he worked hard for the team. He overpowered (Chris) McCann at times.

“That’s what he is all about – the diligence in his performance, the unselfish work for the team and then getting his rewards on top of that.

“Being out the team, it gave us a chance to sit down with him and show him some DVD work on bits where we think he can be better.”

Hanson’s equaliser against one of the division’s promotion favourites made it ten points out of 12 for City this month and followed on from ending Bury’s nine-month unbeaten away record four days earlier.

Darby added: “We started from where we had left off against Bury. We know the resources that Wigan have and the strong squad.

“They’ve hit form in the last couple of weeks but the lads have shown great character after going a goal down. You can see there’s a great work ethic and spirit about us.

“It looked like a foul on Hans before their goal and those are the little decisions you need to go your way. But we didn’t let it affect us and kept going.”

City’s last three goals have all stemmed from Tony McMahon corners and Parkinson is relieved to see them rediscover a cutting edge from set-pieces.

“There was almost an acceptance before that we weren’t going to score,” he said. “But now every time it goes in there we look a real threat.

“We’re going into the box with a lot more desire. It helps when the lads know exactly where the ball is going to go and Tony was absolutely spot-on.”