LONG-SERVING goalkeeper Michael Ingham bears no ill feeling towards York City chief Nigel Worthington but is determined to prove that he should have started the season between the sticks.
Worthington, who also overlooked Ingham for international selection when in charge of the Northern Ireland team he had been capped by three times, preferred to kick off the new campaign with summer signing Jason Mooney.
Earlier this year, Ingham was also dropped for the first time in seven seasons of service for City when Worthington opted for on-loan Charlton shot-stopper Nick Pope instead.
Both decisions hurt Ingham, who has kept 111 clean sheets in 304 games for the Minstermen, but, with a recall to the starting line up at Exeter looking likely this afternoon, he insists he has no problem with the way he has been treated by Worthington, saying: “I was a little bit disappointed not to start at Tranmere because I thought I had done enough in pre-season.
“The gaffer had a tough decision to make but all I ask for is a fair crack of the whip and, even though I haven’t played since January, I can’t say a bad word against the gaffer. He has been different class.
“He has man-managed me really well, kept me involved and kept my spirits up. I am very happy here and just been waiting for my opportunity and, hopefully, it’s come along now and I intend to grab it with both hands.”
Ingham lost his place in goal after the turn of the year despite keeping three consecutive clean sheets on his return from a troublesome hip injury.
Admitting he was unhappy with that decision at the time, Ingham has also now confessed that he understood his manager’s decision when he saw the talented Pope in action.
Pope went on to keep 14 clean sheets in the last 18 games of the season and is currently playing in the Championship for Charlton with Ingham adding: “I thought it was harsh on me in January.
“After that six-week break with injury, I thought I came back sharp during those three games but, after the initial upset, you look at Popey and he was different class. The gaffer was right in what he was saying.
“He had the opportunity to sign a top-class goalkeeper and, if Popey develops the way he has been doing, that’s what he will be. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets England under-21 caps soon.
“It was disappointing for me but you have to get your head down and keep your mouth shut, which is what I’ve tried to do. I haven’t knocked on the gaffer’s door and I’ve just got on with my work day by day and kept myself fit and sharp.”
Ingham was surprised, however, by the circumstances that saw him handed a chance to resurrect his Bootham Crescent career as a half-time substitute against Cambridge in midweek after Mooney had endured a tough opening 45 minutes.
“I was in a state of shock really,” he revealed following his first taste of competitive action in seven months. “I was completely not expecting it and, even when I got home after the match, I still hadn’t come to terms with what had gone on.
“It didn’t settle in until the following morning really when I had time to think about it.”
Only 1955 FA Cup semi-final legend Tommy Forgan has played more games in goal and kept a greater number of clean sheets for City than Ingham.
The ex-Sunderland shot-stopper is just nine shut-outs short of Forgan’s club record of 120 and he currently sits 20th in the Minstermen’s all-time appearance roster.
But Ingham has been quick to point out this week that he is just pleased to be travelling to an away game again with the prospect of starting a match rather than looking on from the bench.
“I can’t wait,” he admitted. “I am excited and feel a new man.
“I am buzzing again and have got the bit between my teeth. I can’t wait to put on that number 24 shirt, which means so much to me, but I’m not looking at any set number of appearances.
“Hopefully, I will play today and do well enough to play in the next game. That’s the way I’m looking at it – game by game.”
Ingham has also seen enough from the touchline this season to suggest City can take all three points from today’s fixture, reasoning: “Exeter’s a tough place to go and they play good football under Paul Tisdale on a wide, open pitch but, the way we have started the season, we are confident of going there and getting a good result.
“We have been unlucky here and there but the standard of our performances have been encouraging.”
Straker sure strikes out on his own
SUMMER signing Anthony Straker has forged to the top of The Press Player of the Year leader-board.
Straker, pictured below, was our second-highest rated player during last weekend’s 1-1 home draw against Northampton and also earned that accolade as City again shared the spoils with Cambridge in midweek, meaning he picked up four points towards the standings in total.
The other points on Tuesday night went to The Press man-of-the-match Luke Summerfield (three) and our third-highest rated player Michael Coulson (one).
Against the Cobblers, The Press star man Russell Penn (three points) and Coulson (one) were also rewarded for their efforts.
Lindon Meikle and Jake Hyde, meanwhile, received the most man-of-the-match votes from visitors to our website and followers of the @daveflettpress Twitter account for the Northampton and Cambridge games respectively.
Those honours earned them two bonus points apiece towards the August Player of the Month contest.
To be in with a chance of presenting The Press Player of the Month for August with a framed photograph at Bootham Crescent, vote for your man of the match from today’s game against Exeter on yorkpress.co.uk or by tweeting @daveflettpress
The Press Player of the Year standings: Straker 7, Coulson 5, Penn 4, Lowe 3, Summerfield 3, McCombe 2.
The Press Player of the Month for August: Coulson 7, Straker 7, Penn 4, Lowe 3, Summerfield 3, Hyde 2, Ilesanmi 2, McCombe 2, Meikle 2.
Goals: Hyde 2, Fletcher 1, Lowe 1.
Assists: Coulson 1, McCoy 1, Meikle 1, Straker 1.
Bad boys: Penn two yellow; Platt one yellow.