STUART McCall today emphasised that he is not back at Valley Parade for the quick fix.

City dropped to ninth – their lowest position since mid-September – with Saturday’s loss at Cambridge.

But they are still only a point off the play-offs with 12 games left.

READ MORE: Bridge too far as City blown away

McCall, who suffered his first defeat at the weekend since replacing Gary Bowyer, will have his sights on finishing in the top seven. But he stressed the long-term thinking behind his return.

He said: “Myself and Kenny (Black) know the job we’ve been given. Naturally we’ll be doing everything we can to win as many games of football as quickly as possible.

“But as we go, we’re not just assessing the players we’ve got here but we’ve also got an eye on next season.

“That’s with the ones here and those that can hopefully be recruited to make us stronger next season.

“It’s not a short-term look at it; it’s a long-term project in terms of the next 16 months.

“We have got 16 months to get this club up and out of the division.

“But that certainly doesn’t mean anything negative towards now. We still believe we can finish strongly this season.”

McCall and Black have a free week with the squad before the next game at Newport. Although the recent weather conditions mean they are again restricted with where they can train.

Callum Cooke, who has missed the last two games with a back issue, was unable to do any extra work over the weekend. City will continue to assess his fitness over the coming days.

McCall added: “We’re learning all the time, I can’t emphasise that enough. Every day we’re assessing, observing and evaluating.

“We went in yesterday morning on the 4G pitch, we knew it was going to be blowing a gale but then it’s when you see what characters you’ve got in the changing room.

“You need lads who want to get out there and get on with it.

“Every club that is going to be successful needs everyone doing their maximum.

“Every game, every training session, we are learning about them.You learn whether you can trust players to do certain jobs right.

“You only get that through working with people and knowing what their strengths and weaknesses are. But we’ve got to do that as quickly as we can.”

McCall had been annoyed that nothing was given when Harry Pritchard appeared to be fouled in the lead-up to Cambridge’s winner in stoppage time. But he also felt the defending had to be a lot stronger to prevent it.

“We’ve got enough bodies back,” he said. “The desire to get back was there but then it’s about taking responsibility with people.

“As I’ve said before, space doesn’t score, it’s men.

“It’s harsh in a way because we had defended that goal really well with all the crosses they’d put in the box and the attempts.

“But it’s concentration and that desire to do everything you can to keep what you’ve got.”