PHIL PARKINSON admitted it could take time to find a settled squad, as his Sunderland debut was ruined by defeat at Wycombe.

After taking over at the Stadium of Light last Thursday, the former Bolton manager saw his new side fall to a first-half effort by Darius Charles.

A further blow to his preparations for his first home game against Tranmere Rovers tomorrow came with both Charlie Wyke subbed at half-time with ankle ligament issues, and Aiden McGeady earning a ban for a fifth yellow card.

Sunderland dropped to tenth in League One, and Parkinson knew he had to look through his whole set-up.

He said “There’s other players who didn’t figure and start today who will be champing at the bit to play.

“I said to the lads yesterday that there’s a lot of games coming up, but I imagine by the time we get through this period of games we’ll have seen everybody and assess what we’ve got.

“I think the squad is decent, there’s definitely the quality there. All the supporters and all the staff know it’s about trying to strike that balance in our play.

“We need to try and do that – we (need to make sure we) carry enough threat going forward but we don’t leave ourselves exposed defensively.

“I’m pleased there’s a game on Tuesday, when you’ve lost a game you want the next one to come quickly.

“Charlie has done what we asked him to do in that first 45 minutes, but the stage is there for somebody to grab hold of the shirt and say they want to be the main man up the top of the pitch.”

Parkinson gave a first League start this season to Duncan Watmore, after his display in the Trophy against Grimsby earlier this month.

He added: “With him, I think we needed a threat of somebody running in behind. That’s why I went with him – he played against Grimsby and played a good proportion of that game and looked good.

“I looked at training Thursday and he was ready. In my mind I didn’t want to stretch him too far in the game and get injured, he’s a key player because we need those legs in those areas, to stretch the opposition back four.

“We don’t want to be a team that plays in front of sides all the time.”

Parkinson made five changes in his first game in charge, with Watmore. Lee Burge, McGeady, Grant Leadbitter and Denver Hume all coming into the starting eleven.

Although the hosts were keen to use the long ball to Adebayo Akinfenwa, it was Sunderland who had the first chance after eight minutes, when Watmore crossed from the right to let in McGeady, who placed his effort over the crossbar of keeper Ryan Allsop.

The visitors looked to get on top, and on 19 minutes Wyke saw his header saved by Allsop, but it was ruled offside.

After Sunderland escaped a penalty decision when David Wheeler and Joel Lynch clashed, Burge was called into action after 22 minutes when he palmed away a free-kick on the edge of the area by Joe Jacobson.

The deadlock was broken by the home side six minutes later. A Jacobson free kick by the corner flag was delivered in for Akinfenwa to connect.

With the ball popping loose in the area, his former AFC Wimbledon team-mate Darius Charles rifled home to put Sunderland behind.

The visitors struggled against a number of set-pieces against their opponents, and on 32 minutes they were given another warning when Nick Freeman shot wide from the edge of the area.

Jacobson went close with another free kick, just before the interval, but his effort went just to the left of the Burge post.

Wyke, who spent some of the first half receiving treatment, was taken off at half-time, and was replaced by Will Grigg.

After withstanding some early Wycombe pressure in the second half, Conor McLaughlin put his effort just past the post on 56 minutes.

Parkinson made two further changes, with Watmore making way for Chris Maguire, and Marc McNulty coming on for Leadbitter.

The switches allowed Sunderland to further test the home side, although their attacks remained blunt.

Indeed, Wycombe almost doubled their lead on 82 minutes, when Akinfenwa put a Jacobson free-kick off target.

Referee Kevin Johnson awarded six additional minutes injury time, and McGeady almost made an equaliser – the first Sunderland effort on target in the whole game.

Picking the ball up, he was able to make his way within shooting distance to unleash a dipping shot, but his effort was finger-tipped onto the bar by Allsop.

As the home fans celebrated their victory, Sunderland supporters knew their team would have to start performing a lot better – and soon.