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York City manager believes Russell Penn’s play-off experience can provide boost
NIGEL Worthington believes new signing Russell Penn’s play-off experience can give York City the belief to set their sights higher than the club’s current league position.
The Minstermen are 17th in the Sky Bet League Two standings having only avoided relegation on the final day of last season.
Penn, meanwhile, has spent the last two campaigns as a mainstay in a Cheltenham team that has racked up back-to-back, top-seven finishes.
On the significance of adding a player accustomed to winning matches on a regular basis in the Football league’s bottom tier, City chief Worthington said: “He’s been through the play-off scenario and getting people in and around the group like that is very important and valuable.
“Players who have had success put demands on each other in the dressing room and on the pitch. They can also help others who have not been in that scenario before to try and push to get there and we must aim to do that.”
With Penn having spent the last year as Cheltenham’s club captain, Worthington is also hoping his latest addition can provide another authoritative voice at Bootham Crescent.
Along with current skipper David McGurk, the likes of Michael Ingham, Chris Smith and Dan Parslow have all carried out the role in the past and Worthington added: “Russell is a very experienced player and a leader on the pitch.
“Just because somebody has got the armband, that does not mean they should be the only leader.
“You need as many people as possible to take responsibility to carry the fight on to the pitch and we are trying to add to that all the time.”
The City boss also feels that Penn will provide a good blend between combative and creative midfield play that has perhaps been missing in the Minstermen’s engine room this season and contributed to Elliott Whitehouse’s return to parent club Sheffield United.
On Penn’s qualities, Worthington said: “He likes to get close to opposition players and make tackles but can pass a ball too.
“I like my players rough and ready but with an ability to play with a clear head when required.
“Young Elliott worked very hard and did well for us but I just felt we needed a bit more guile in the middle of the park and, with Russell’s background, he brings a wealth of that.”
Penn has committed his future to City until the summer of 2016 and Worthington believes that will be beneficial to both player and club, reasoning: “That provides stability and continuity for the player and the football club. He’s a good age at 28 and almost in the prime of his career.”
City are still looking to add a goalkeeper and centre-back to their squad with Michael Ingham currently the only senior shot-stopper on the Bootham Crescent books and Dan Parslow sidelined with cruciate ligament damage for the rest of the season.
But Worthington has been pleased to tie up Penn and fellow midfielder Adam Reed so soon after the transfer window reopened, adding: “It’s about getting organised, knowing what you want and being persistent.”
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