PHIL Parkinson insists Wanderers can stay up – but only if they rediscover some defensive grit.

The under-fire Bolton boss takes his side to Birmingham City tomorrow night having kept just one clean sheet in their last 23 games in all competitions.

Wanderers are four points from safety and have won just once in their last 21 outings after a 2-1 defeat against Preston North End on Saturday.

Parkinson believes the standard of football has improved in recent outings but that it has come at a cost.

“At Sheffield United we played better football, passed the ball better,” he said. “(Against Preston) We missed Luca’s footballing ability when he came off.

“But whilst we have done better at times with the ball, the only way we are going to get out of this situation is by making sure we are hard to beat and hard to break down. That’s the reality.

“The fact is as each one goes by there is less time. I believe we can do it and I wouldn’t be stood here if I didn’t.

“I thought the supporters were excellent, I have to mention that, because it was a difficult afternoon.

“I believe we can still do it but we have to find a way for people to come away from games saying ‘that Bolton team had something about it’.

“I couldn’t say what we are all about today. Were we a direct team who went forward all the time? Were we a footballing team? No, we were in between.

“We have to find a way of playing, get back to it, and stick to it.”

Parkinson felt injuries to defenders Mark Beevers, Andy Taylor and Jack Hobbs played a part in a poor afternoon against Preston – but the Bolton boss did pick out his striker, Josh Magennis, as one who caught the eye.

“I thought Josh did well, I was pleased with his all-round performance,” he said. “He’s done a lot of work with Nick Allamby, the sports scientist, working on aspects of his physical ability because it is so important for the type of player he is. I thought he was a handful and he was unlucky not to get himself on the scoresheet.”