SHAQ McDONALD is unlikely to be given his York City debut tonight even if fellow strikers Ryan Jarvis and Ryan Bowman are both unavailable for the Sky Bet League Two home clash with Chesterfield.
Rather than travelling with the first team for Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Hartlepool, McDonald featured in that morning’s 3-0 North Riding Senior Cup loss at Richmond Town.
City boss Nigel Worthington still believes the 18-year-old forward is short on match fitness after joining the Minstermen at the turn of the year following his release by Peterborough in November.
As a consequence, first-year pro Chris Dickinson – an unused substitute at Victoria Park – has more chance of making his League debut against the Spireites if Jarvis and Bowman are unfit, although Worthington could also switch to a 4-3-3 formation and employ Wes Fletcher as a lone central striker.
Jarvis is rated as “very doubtful” after picking up an ankle injury at Hartlepool, where Bowman also jarred his Achilles but has more chance of recovering in time for this evening’s contest.
Asked whether the time would be right to pitch in Dickinson or McDonald against the high-flying visitors, Worthington said: “Everbody has got to be physically and mentally ready to play when required.
“You cannot have anybody in the squad that isn’t because the game is no longer about 11 players. It’s about your squad, whether you are playing in the Premier League or League Two.
“At this moment in time, though, Chris is probably ahead of Shaq because he is still playing catch-up from a fitness point of view to get to the levels we expect. But he is working hard and wants to work hard, so we will keep pushing him.”
On the possibility of a system change, meanwhile, the Minstermen chief added: “It might be something we look at depending on the personnel we have available.”
Worthington has also challenged his team to bounce back from the disappointment of the weekend against a side he regards as League Two’s Manchester City or Chelsea due to their spending power.
“Everybody was disappointed and a little bit hurt on Saturday because a lot of work went into those first 82 minutes before they scored the first goal, but we have got a terrific game against Chesterfield now at Bootham Crescent,” he said.
“It will be a challenge for us because they are maybe the Manchester City or Chelsea of League Two from a financial point of view but there is nothing to stop us picking our wits on a one-to-one basis.
“They are in good shape and near the top of the league but they are coming to our ground and we have our jobs to do and we need to do them well.”
Despite tonight’s match being sandwiched between weekend trips to Hartlepool and Fleetwood, Worthington gave short shrift to any notion of fatigue in his players, reasoning: “I listened to the radio on the way back from Saturday’s match and it was interesting.
“They were talking about professional footballers playing three games a week but I have told our lads that isn’t a problem.
“It’s a joy to be playing rather than training all week and we must make sure we are well-prepared and focused for two terrific games.
“I can remember playing against Nottingham Forest on Boxing Day and then at Manchester City the following day.
“As a player, that’s a real challenge but you put everything you can into the first game and then push yourself as much as possible in the second.
“The body can cope with it, so it’s all about your mental strength as a player.”
Estonian international Sander Puri has resumed light training following his knee injury but will not be considered against the Spireites.