ALEX Gilliead can continue to improve his game if he stays with City, Stuart McCall today stressed.

The Bantams are still looking to nail down the Newcastle winger for the full season amid reports in the north-east of Championship interest in him.

City's hopes were raised when his parent club allowed Gilliead to be involved in the FA Cup earlier this month.

They have put in the request but the Toon have yet to finalise their January plans for the players out on loan.

Speculation that Sunderland, Hull and Millwall are potentially eyeing up a temporary move in the transfer window will raise concerns that the Bantams could be gazumped.

McCall admits he is unaware of other clubs looking to muscle in but hopes the guarantee of regular games at Valley Parade would sway the wide man over the prospect of trying his luck at a higher club.

The City boss said: "I've seen a lot of cases of people going up a division and then they don't play. For me, as a young kid there's nothing better than playing.

"It happened a lot in Scotland where I'd work with a younger player and they'd jump to England to earn more money – and never kick a ball. For two years, they'd grow stale just doing nothing.

"I'm not saying that happens all the time but it can do. Players take a step up a level but then only play reserve football or come on as sub for two minutes.

"I know Gilly's enjoying it here. It's not a lack of ambition if you're playing regular football, relishing it as he is and keep improving."

Gilliead has started 18 of his 21 City appearances this season and scored his first goal in the FA Cup first-round win over Chesterfield. His cross set up the winner at Shrewsbury last weekend.

The 21-year-old is the only genuine senior winger in the squad. But in the same way that McCall adapted Mark Marshall for different roles, he is working to give Gilliead a more rounded approach to his game.

McCall said: "He knew if he came back he'd get his chance and he's done that. He's played in the majority of games and is learning all the time.

"Gilly is adding different bits to his game and we're working with him in the training, not just to be an out-and-out winger but to go looking for the ball, get in the box and try to be a threat.

"Some games we want Gilly to just be an out-and-out wideman because we'll think the width of the pitch is important against a weak full back.

"Other times, we don't want him isolated out there and want him to go join in down the middle – and he's doing that.

"At half-time on Saturday, we said to him there are times when he's got to get beyond Charlie (Wyke) and get in.

"The goal was a typical example of that. Rather than staying out wide and waiting for the ball, he's seen Charlie go short and he's gone in beyond.

"Another example of coming off the line and being a bit more direct was his goal against Chesterfield.

"That's what we're working on with him. We want to improve him as a player and that helps us."

Meanwhile, City are assessing the condition of another loan player after Tom Field suffered a knee injury in the reserves on Tuesday.

The left back is being checked over to decide if he will have to return to Brentford early for treatment. He has not been cleared to play in the FA Cup anyway.