RETURNING York City centre-back Dan Parslow has vowed to win back his starting place despite the formidable form of Keith Lowe and John McCombe during his long absence.
Former Wales under-21 international Parslow suffered cruciate knee ligament damage back in November when Lowe was making his City debut during a 2-1 defeat at Southend.
McCombe then arrived at Bootham Crescent during the January transfer window and forged a central-defensive partnership with Lowe, in front of on-loan goalkeeper Nick Pope, that was responsible for just six goals being conceded during last season's final 19 fixtures.
Prior to his injury, however, Parslow had made the first XI in 14 consecutive matches and, as he closes in on eight years of service for the Minstermen, he is aiming to jump ahead of the likes of Lowe, McCombe and new signing Dave Winfield in the pecking order for back-four places during the new SkyBet League Two season.
Having completed the first 45 minutes of his playing comeback this week - during a youth-team friendly against Rochdale - the 28-year-old defender said: "You can't do much when you are injured and the lads who came in - John and Keith - kept so many clean sheets at the end of last season to get us in the play-offs.
"But I am confident in my ability and believe I am as good as anybody at this football club. When I am fully fit, I will be doing the best I can to get in the team.
"We have four very good centre halves, so it's a challenge, but I've been here a long time and lots of players have been and gone. I don't shirk away from a challenge so I am willing to give it a go."
Parslow has not ruled out operating in another role, however, to reclaim his starting shirt.
The versatile, ex-Cardiff trainee, who has filled in at both full-back positions in the past, as well as in an anchoring midfield role, added: "I've played in the centre of midfield and pretty much a full season at right back under previous managers. The fact I can juggle about a bit is not a bad thing, especially when the squad is so tightly-knit.
"We all know centre half is my best position and probably where I am more comfortable, but I will do a job if needed in the centre of midfield or at right back."
Despite enduring one of football's worst injuries, Parslow also insists he feels no trepidation in the tackle.
"I had a bedding-in period with non-contact stuff for two weeks," he explained. "I could still do the cardio stuff and ball work, but the lads were keeping away from me really.
"I've been thrown into full training, though, for about three weeks now and there have been plenty of blocks and tackles, so you get back into that side of things without even realising it really. I've withstood that test and cleared that hurdle, which is good psychologically, because that's half the battle and it meant my first challenge in the youth-team game wasn't an issue.
"That 45 minutes was a good run-out and it was fantastic to be back after so long. I really enjoyed getting a feel for things again."
Parslow is hoping to feature in tomorrow's final pre-season friendly against Sheffield United at Bootham Crescent and, with substitute places seemingly up for grabs due to City's modestly-sized squad, he is not ruling out a return to Football League duty when the campaign kicks off at Tranmere in eight days' time.
"My knee feels fine and I am looking forward to kicking on and getting my fitness back," he reasoned. "Hopefully, I will see some part of tomorrow's game if all has gone well in training, then I will take things from there. I'm playing catch-up a little bit and I need games because eight months is such a long time to be out.
"I'm a naturally fit lad but there's nothing like playing games and the more minutes I get under my belt the better. Sometimes, though, needs must and, if needed, I will be ready for August 9."