YORK City boss Nigel Worthington is hoping Michael Ingham can shrug off a groin strain and press his claims to start the season in goal.
Summer signing Jason Mooney played between the sticks for the whole of Tuesday night’s 4-0 pre-season victory at Raith whilst Ingham’s injury kept him sidelined.
With Nick Pope returning to parent club Charlton at the end of last season after displacing Ingham in the City team, Worthington has told the latter that he and Mooney would be auditioning for a place in the first XI during the six friendlies prior to the SkyBet League Two curtain raiser at Tranmere on August 9.
The Minstermen play their third warm-up game at Scottish Cup winners St Johnstone tomorrow with Worthington hoping that Ingham can play some part.
“Michael has a sore groin so we will be looking to see how he is and he shouldn’t be too far away,” the City chief revealed. “You want everybody fit to give themselves a fair crack of the whip but we have still got four pre-season games left so, the sooner Michael gets back to get some football, the better for him.”
St Johnstone were in Europa League action last night, taking on Swiss hosts FC Luzern in their second qualifying round, first leg tie.
The return match will be on Thursday at McDiarmid Park and manager Tommy Wright could opt to rest some players against the Minstermen.
St Johnstone have already beaten East Fife 4-0 and drawn 1-1 with Raith during pre-season but City will be their only other friendly opponents prior to the kick off to the Scottish Premier League campaign, aside from a testimonial match against Hearts a week on Sunday.
Wright could, therefore, be tempted to get more game time into some of the side’s leading lights, including Northern Ireland keeper Alan Mannus, ex-Manchester City and Norwich midfielder Lee Croft, former Sheffield Wednesday striker Steve MacLean, last season’s 27-goal, top scorer Stevie May and Scotland international Murray Davidson.
The Bootham Crescent boss added: “It’s a step up from Tuesday night. They will be focussed on their European games, so there will be some from the first-team group and some younger ones, but it’s a good test for us.
“It will be about us picking up the mantle from Tuesday night when there were a lot of good things that we can work on and tweak to get right for August 9.”
Having been cheered on by a raucous travelling army of 70 fans in Raith, Worthington is also calling on his players to put on another strong show for the club’s loyal supporters.
He said: “Having been with the club 15 months, nothing about the York supporters surprises me. No matter where we play, even if it’s in pre-season during holiday times, they turn up and to have 70 or 80 people making the noise they did at Raith was tremendous.
“As always, it was very much appreciated. Hopefully, they enjoyed the game and what they saw and, hopefully, we can now reproduce that for whoever comes up tomorrow and give them something to shout about as well.
“We have got people at this club who give up a hell of a lot of their family time and hard-earned money to follow their team and I always ask the players to go out and give 100 per cent because some of those people will have come up here and back on Tuesday night. That’s lot of miles to travel and, hopefully, if they carry on doing their bit and we do ours, we can have a successful season together.”
Should Ingham be ruled out, City will continue to use only 16 players in Perth – a number welcomed by Worthington despite games at this time of the year often being subject to multiple substitutions as players are eased back into action.
“People are getting game time,” the former Norwich manager pointed out. “A number of players have completed 90 minutes already and pre-season is a good time to get petrol in your tank because that fitness can carry you through the season.
“For the new players, it means they have been given more time to adjust to what we are about and for them to fit into their roles. In the short space of time from the Sheffield Wednesday game, you could see the improvements because there were some good solid performances from the new players.”