WES FLETCHER is set to make his first York City start since mid-February in tomorrow night’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy tie at Barnsley.
Last season’s 13-goal top scorer came off the bench for a fourth successive match during Saturday’s 0-0 stalemate against Wycombe at Bootham Crescent.
He has been eased back following five months on the sidelines with medial ligament damage.
But City chief Nigel Worthington feels the time is now right for Fletcher to be included in a first XI for the first time since the 4-0 thrashing of Plymouth last season.
“He’s not far away (from starting a game),” Worthington admitted following the 23-year-old forward’s 65th-minute outing at the weekend. “We will have a little look at it towards tomorrow night and, maybe, give him a little run-out to see where he’s at.
“He’s looking sharp in training and had his half-hours during the last few games. Now, we might need to get him in from the start and see how he is.”
Worthington, meanwhile, added that tomorrow’s squad is unlikely to include any new faces with the transfer window for permanent signings closing at 11pm tonight.
“I am expecting a quiet one,” he said of deadline day at Bootham Crescent. “We’ve had a little look and there’s not too much floating about in terms of going out and bringing somebody in.
“I can’t see anything happening really, so we will continue working with what we’ve got. In seven days’ time, we can also go back into the loan market, so it’s not as if the window is completely closed until January.”
Worthington has warned against the dangers of “frustration” at the club after his side drew for a fifth successive game.
As the new SkyBet League Two campaign enters its second month, the Minstermen are yet to taste victory or defeat.
But the former Northern Ireland chief has stressed the importance of avoiding too much disappointment.
He said: “We’re not far away from getting that win. The word patience doesn’t often go down well in football but I have got to be patient.
“We can’t get disappointed or frustrated because, once that sets in, players get a little bit shy of their jobs, so it’s important to keep believing because we’ve got what we’ve got squad wise.”
Worthington was pleased with a first clean sheet of the new campaign and his team’s work-rate against Wycombe but was, once more, lamenting a lack of punch in the final third of the pitch.
“I couldn’t really fault the performance,” he added. “There was lots of energy and good stuff but some of our decision making could have been better at times.
“That’s all part of learning, education and coaching. Otherwise, it was the same old story, when we get a chance or half a chance, we have got to take it.
“But the positives are we are still unbeaten and we got a clean sheet, which I am absolutely delighted with. Now, we’ve got to add to that and try to get that win.”
John McCombe was reunited with Keith Lowe at the heart of City’s defence for the Wycombe clash, earning a swift recall after being dropped for the previous weekend’s trip to Exeter.
The pair’s display also encouraged Worthington, who said: “The two centre-halves were strong, dependable and no-nonsense and that’s what we need no matter who plays there.
“Whether it’s those two or Dave Winfield and Dan Parslow, we need definitive, big strong centre-halves.”
The City boss was not as enamoured, though, by some of the play on the flanks by his wing pair Anthony Straker and Lindon Meikle, pointing out: “I was very disappointed with the two wide players in the first half.
“They weren’t being direct enough, which we had worked on all week. They didn’t have the courage to go and do it, so there’s plenty to work on, but the second half was better from Lindon.”
Wycombe employed repeated time-wasting tactics to assist their bid for a result at Bootham Crescent and Worthington explained the club – as play-off semi-finalists last term - must become accustomed to such behaviour from away teams.
“We had several words with the referee to keep on top of it but we have to remember teams are coming here and are absolutely delighted if they go away with a point,” he reasoned.