YORK City are hoping summer signing Dave Winfield can feature during this week’s Scotland tour despite missing Saturday’s pre-season curtain-raiser against Sheffield Wednesday.
Winfield sat out the 2-0 home defeat against the Owls, who wrapped up victory in the first half courtesy of a Keith Lowe own goal and Scotland international Chris Maguire’s speculative 30-yard strike.
The former Shrewsbury centre-back was left out as a precautionary measure due to a hamstring twinge, meaning fellow defenders Lowe and John McCombe completed the full 90 minutes with Dan Parslow also still on his way back from cruciate ligament damage.
Winfield’s absence left City with just 16 fit senior professionals, including goalkeepers Jason Mooney and Michael Ingham, against the Championship visitors, but Worthington will not rush him back for tomorrow night’s friendly at Raith Rovers if he has not recovered fully.
“He just felt a bit of tightness in his hamstring on Thursday and, at this stage of the year, you don’t want to take any risks and push people through games unnecessarily,” Worthington explained.
The City boss went on to admit that his side’s sweltering start to pre-season was great for fitness levels, saying: “That was our first 11 v 11 game and there has been a lot of hard work done over the last two weeks.
“It was very hot and we were playing against a Sheffield Wednesday team who showed their Championship class at times, so it was a very good workout and great for fitness. We are getting up to speed and there were many good things we can identify to work on to make sure we are ready for Tranmere on August 9.”
Worthington pointed out there were lessons to be learned, though, from the manner in which City conceded both goals – the first from a Maguire free-kick and the second from his long-range pot-shot.
The Minstermen chief added: “We haven’t done a lot offensively or defensively on set-pieces and we will build on that in pre-season but the first goal proved that, if you get the ball into the box with pace, it can come off anybody and I think it ended up hitting Keith. The second goal showed that if you don’t press the ball quickly in any league then somebody can do what their lad did.”
Youth-team trio Callum Rzonca, Adam Morley and Ben Hirst, meanwhile, were all given second-half run-outs as substitutes by Worthington.
Rzonca was the only City player to trouble the visitors’ goal in the second half and Worthington feels the experience represented great exposure for all three teenagers in front of a 3,312 crowd, boosted by a 1,993 visiting contingent.
“It is good for the young lads to get a feel of things,” the City boss reasoned. “They were playing against a Championship side and that’s nice for their families to see too.
“Young Callum made a great run through the right and got a good shot off and that’s what you are looking for because you want to see how young players deal with these situations. I enjoy bringing young players into the team because this is a tough game to be in and, by giving them opportunities, you learn whether they can do it or not.”
Despite their involvement at the weekend, City are not expected to take any of the club’s scholars to Scotland with Worthington saying: “It means everybody will be getting plenty of game time.”
Midfielder Tom Platt is also being challenged to prove his versatility, having started in a central position against Wednesday before moving out on to the right flank in the second half.
Worthington has also played the ex-youth team skipper at full-back in the past and explained: “When he’s on his game, he is capable of playing in a number of positions. At the minute, he’s getting frustrated with himself and he’s got to steer away from that because you have to stay positive in this game.”
On his old club’s contribution to Saturday’s match on and off the pitch, Worthington added: “The turnout from Sheffield was fantastic for a pre-season friendly.
“It is pretty much like us when we go away – they turn out in force. I would also like to thank Stuart Gray for bringing his team here.”
Stirling University is now the destination for Worthington and his squad for a training camp that will be supplemented by a game at Scottish Cup winners St Johnstone on Saturday following tomorrow’s contest in Raith.
On his objectives for the trek north of the border, the City manager said: “We will be working hard but enjoying it at the same time. We will be looking at getting our shape right, passing well and working the ball forward to get through on the opposition’s goal.
“It will be wonderful to lock everybody away for a week of working, eating and living together. People really get to know each other that way and what to expect from each other.”