WES FLETCHER is losing his race to be fit for the start of the new Sky Bet League Two season.
York City’s 13-goal top scorer last term has still not returned to full training following the medial ligament injury he suffered at Portsmouth in March.
He will, therefore, take no part in tonight’s pre-season friendly at home to Nottingham Forest and is not expected to feature either in the Minstermen’s final warm-up match against Sheffield United on Saturday – a week before the 2014/15 campaign kicks off.
On Fletcher’s situation, City chief Nigel Worthington said: “It’s a bit slower than we would have liked, but we’ve got to be patient. I don’t want to put a time frame on anything but, hopefully, he will be able to join in training with the big group sooner rather than later.”
There is better news, however, for Dan Parslow, who played his first half of football since suffering cruciate ligament damage back in November during a youth-team friendly against Rochdale yesterday.
“That 45 minutes is Pars’ first match since the injury,” Worthington added. “I’m not sure but he might get something on Saturday at some stage as well and it’s great to have him back around the place getting back to full fitness.
“He’s a great pro and an example on how to be a footballer in terms of his willingness to improve and get better.”
Summer signing Luke Summerfield is also hoping to return in midfield against the Blades.
He will not play this evening, though, following the minor knee injury that has seen him miss City’s last two friendlies against St Johnstone and Hull.
Worthington’s men did not find the net in either of those matches and were also kept off the scoresheet during their opening pre-season fixture at home to Sheffield Wednesday.
They did manage to fire in four against Raith following that Owls encounter but the City boss admitted that getting back on the goal trail is one of his objectives during the remainder of pre-season.
“We will be looking for another good workout,” he said of the first test against Forest. “We will be measuring ourselves against Championship opposition and it’s all about trying to look at our shape, while trying to keep a clean sheet and create chances and score goals at the other end.
“People get in the habit of scoring, so it’s always important to get your shots on goal and to see some of them go in. Michael Coulson hit the bar against Hull and Ryan Jarvis had one saved on the line by some brilliant Premier League defending, so we are creating chances but we just have to be ruthless enough to take them.
“We certainly want to be up to speed as far as that is concerned before we go to Tranmere on August 9.”
With Josh Carson, Fletcher, Parslow and Summerfield all still sidelined tonight, the bench will again be complemented by youth-team apprentices.
Teenage trio Callum Rzonca, Adam Morley and Ben Hirst have all been given match time in pre-season and Worthington has not ruled out the possibility of that opportunity presenting itself when the campaign kicks off for real.
The City boss explained: “We haven’t got the biggest squad but we have got a decent one. As a young player, though, I would be busting a gut to impress and catch the eye knowing that, if there are a couple of injuries, I might get a chance.”
Forest have lost their last three pre-season friendlies 1-0 against MK Dons, Rotherham and Rio Ave.
Prior to those defeats, Stuart Pearce’s men beat Porto B 3-2 and non-League neighbours Ilkeston 4-0.
The City Ground side have injury problems ahead of the new campaign with Matty Fryatt, Jack Hunt, Darius Henderson, Jamaal Lascelles and Henri Lansbury having recently joined long-term casualties Kelvin Wilson, Jack Hobbs, Chris Cohen, Eric Lichaj and Dexter Blackstock in the treatment room.
Forest are looking to sign ex-Birmingham winger Chris Burke, however, in time to face the Minstermen and summer signings Michael Mancienne, Roger Riera, Lars Veldwijk and Louis Laing should all feature having been recruited from Hamburg, Barcelona, Excelsior and Sunderland respectively.
The former European Cup winners only have one more pre-season game after tackling City – at home to West Brom on Saturday.
There will be a minute’s applause, meanwhile, before tonight’s game in the memory of City’s club historian Dave Batters, who passed away last week.
Dave’s funeral will take place at York Crematorium on Tuesday, August 5 at 12.20pm with refreshments at Bootham Crescent’s Pitchside Bar afterwards.