MICHAEL COULSON has told his York City team-mates they might need to wrestle him off the ball if they want to take a free-kick next season.

Set-piece specialist Coulson opened the Minstermen’s pre-season account with a 20-yard dead-ball strike during Tuesday’s 4-0 win at Raith Rovers.

He also had a second direct attempt at the home goal expertly tipped over by Raith shot-stopper David McGurn, while his final goal of last season was a well-struck match winning free-kick against Newport at the end of April.

The likes of summer signings Anthony Straker and Luke Summerfield have pressed their claims for set-play duty, too, during the Minstermen’s warm-up matches against Sheffield Wednesday and Raith but Coulson will take some persuading to stand to one side from now on.

He said: “I like being on free-kicks. It’s a chance to get goals and everyone wants to score.

“I don’t really try anything fancy with them like bending them in the top corner but it’s all about them going in and I just try to hit the target and make the keeper work. On Tuesday night, it wasn’t the best strike but it went in and that’s what can happen if you hit the target.

“I had to throw Monty (Lewis Montrose) off it against Raith and there are plenty of players capable of taking them. I suppose it’s about who fancies it on the day.

“If somebody steps up and says they want to take one, maybe I will have to step aside and let them take it, but there will be a good fight before that happens.”

Coulson also finished last season as the team’s designated penalty taker with Wes Fletcher injured and Ryan Bowman and Ryan Jarvis falling out of favour.

The former Scarborough forward converted vital spot kicks during the run-in to earn a 1-1 draw with Accrington and a 1-0 victory at Oxford and, aged 26, feels he can shoulder that responsibility this term too.

He added: “It’s up to the manager really. We all showed last season that we could take penalties and score them.

“It’s all down to who’s nominated and if they fancy it. I had a couple of pressure penalties last season and it was the first time in my career that I’d really taken them in a game situation but I didn’t feel fazed by it.

“I enjoyed it and it’s a good chance to get goals on your record so you don’t want to pass that opportunity up.”

Coulson feels City’s players have enjoyed the best possible preparation for the challenges ahead during this week’s training base at Stirling University and seven-day stay at the Airth Castle Hotel.

“The facilities have been excellent,” Coulson said. “I have been up here before with Grimsby but we stayed on the actual university campus, which was a bit of an eye opener.

“This time, we have been treated to a great hotel and have been spoilt really because everything is fantastic. Everybody has settled quickly and all the new lads are great. There are plenty of characters, especially Femi (Ilesanmi).”

Coulson added that he has also already spotted signs that the new players are buying into the York City playing ethos after just two outings, explaining: “The first game against Sheffield Wednesday did not go as we would have liked.

“We were playing a good side who we knew were going to keep the ball and they showed their class at times but we were disappointed because we felt we could have given a better account of ourselves. We put that right on Tuesday night when we were straight out of the blocks from the start and got in their faces.

“We played how we want to do and showed what a good team we can be. It might take a bit of time for the new lads to get used to how we play because we press the ball and win it back as quickly as possible.

“We didn’t do that last weekend but we did against Raith and everybody saw the effects of that, because they just couldn’t keep the ball and it was good performance all-round.”