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Jonathan Smith back to battle for York City starting role
JONATHAN Smith has been brought back to Bootham Crescent to try to inject some bite into the York City midfield.
The Preston-born 26-year-old, returned to training with the Minstermen yesterday after being recalled from his loan spell at non-League Luton Town.
City boss Gary Mills is making no promises to Smith in terms of a starting place for this weekend’s home match with Bristol Rovers, but admitted that his combative style of play would have perhaps benefited the team during Saturday’s disappointing 2-0 defeat at Plymouth.
“We are pleased to have him back,” Mills said of Smith. “We’ve lost a couple of players to injury so it’s nice to make the squad that little bit bigger and stronger.
“He’s been to Luton and had quite a few games and now I’m hoping he’ll step up to the mark back at York. He knows that he’s a good player and it’s down to him to force his way into my team by starting to do what he’s good at.
“Winning second balls is his game and one of his many strengths. We didn’t win enough on Saturday and that was a big reason behind our defeat.
“He wasn’t doing it to the level you’d expect from him before, but we’ve got him back to get him back to his best and to help us to start winning matches.”
After being re-signed for a second spell with the Minstermen from Swindon in the summer, where he won a League Two championship medal last season, Smith lost his starting place in mid-September.
He was allowed to leave for Luton in November.
Mills is now wondering whether Smith’s start to the campaign was affected in some way by an incomplete pre-season having spent a long period in dispute with Swindon, where he was frozen out by controversial manager Paulo di Canio.
“There’s no excuses fitness wise because he’s been playing week in, week out,” Mills pointed out. “But his fitness might possibly have been a factor before, because he did not have a proper pre-season.
“Swindon messed him around a bit but he always gives 100 per cent in whatever he does and I’m looking forward to making the decision as to whether I chose him in my XI or not.”
Smith returns despite being quoted as saying he was “desperate” to remain at Luton. But Mills believes his comments were taken out of context, adding: “I’ve not spoken to him about that.
“As I’ve said before, I don’t think any of what he said was meant to be disrespectful to York. People can get carried away, but he’s not the type of lad to cause any upset.”
Mills also confirmed that Lee Bullock will not be called back from his current loan spell with Gateshead.