STUART McCall may be forced to abandon his attacking principles to go safety first in City’s current predicament.

The Bantams chief was furious with the display in the FA Cup exit to Oldham – their third loss on the bounce.

They are back at Valley Parade tomorrow against second-placed Cheltenham with McCall seriously considering fifth-from-bottom City’s approach as much as the personnel.

McCall said: “If teams are watching us now, they’ll look at the Exeter game, at Salford and Saturday and think, ‘we’ll let them have the ball to a certain point, they’ll give it away and we can counter-attack them’.

“Do I now have to change how we are going to set up – just go solid, solid, strong and kick the ball up the park, get behind it, fight for bits and not try to play?

“I haven’t tried to build a squad to do that. But if needs must, that might have to be the case.

“I’ll look at the way we’re going about it because we are certainly giving up too many opportunities recently.

“That’s okay if you are making chances yourself and creating – but we aren’t creating much either.”

Clayton Donaldson’s penalty in Saturday’s 2-1 defeat was City’s only effort on target and Oldham should have won by more.

McCall will find out today the extent of Zeli Ismail’s hamstring problem which finished his third start of the season after just 15 minutes.

City are already facing the absence of young defender Reece Staunton for at least a couple of months after his scan results revealed a severe tear. Levi Sutton and Harry Pritchard will also miss out again for the Robins clash.

McCall added: “Zeli was buzzing to be starting. He was really excited because he has worked hard to get back and we’d saved him to have a good go.

“We get him up to speed and then his hamstring goes again. It’s frustrating for us but imagine how frustrating it must be for him.

“I was concerned about the overall performance but now more so with who will be available for Cheltenham. We’ll have to have a head count.

“The lads who are lucky enough to play have just got to dig in and give everything. Tough times call for tough people.”

McCall once again knocked back the suggestion of plugging the gaps with free agents because they would not be fit enough to play straight away.

“I must speak to five or six agents a day and say that if they’ve got anyone put them to us and we’ll happily have a look. The more bodies the better.

“But some of these guys have not played for nine months. You can’t expect someone to come in and play football for us straight away – it’s inconceivable.

“If somebody has been playing in America, Australia or wherever then, of course, we’d be interested. But it’s very doubtful there is anybody out there like that.

“I can’t imagine anyone can come in and help us here and now.

"It’s difficult at the minute in certain areas of the park. But that’s no excuse for Saturday's performance because they can all do far better.

"It wasn't a lack of effort but the quality of passing probably annoyed me more than anything. If they are fortunate to keep the jersey, I know one thing – they can only be better."