MICHAEL INGHAM is determined to make a positive return to the York City side after admitting he became a “negative goalkeeper” last season.

The 34-year-old shot-stopper looks certain to reclaim the starting place he lost in January during this afternoon’s SkyBet League Two clash at Exeter.

Ingham tasted his first competitive action in seven months during the second half of Tuesday night’s 2-2 home draw against Cambridge United after replacing a struggling Jason Mooney at the interval.

Summer signing Mooney kicked off the campaign ahead of Ingham, who was dropped by the Minstermen for the first time ever midway through last season when Nick Pope was brought in for a second loan spell from Charlton.

Mooney’s uncertain form, though, means the former Northern Ireland international is expected be given the opportunity to add to his 304 appearances for the club at St James Park.

It is a chance he intends to take and Ingham knows how important his frame of mind will be in that process.

“I became a negative goalkeeper last season,” he confessed. “I don’t want to make excuses but I did play with an injury for three months and didn’t do myself any justice.

“There were off-field problems as well but I feel it’s up to me to take my opportunity now and, probably, restore some of the faith the fans, management and people around the club had in me, as well as me restoring some of that faith in myself. It’s a challenge for myself more than anything and, if I am to be honest, I probably slacked off a bit last season.

“I want to get back to being a positive goalkeeper and, hopefully, play a lot of games again. One thing is for certain though – I will be taking things game by game from now on and won’t be taking my place for granted or stuff like that.

“I won’t be lackadaisical. I will be keeping sharp and getting ready mentally for every game.”

Ingham’s command of his penalty area came under scrutiny last season, leading City boss Nigel Worthington to prefer the 6ft 5in Pope.

Such considerations were also in Worthington’s mind when 6ft 81/2in Mooney was recruited over the summer but Ingham insists that he has proven himself well capable in the past of handling and judging crosses into his box.

He added: “I went in my shell a bit last season and probably wasn’t being a dominant keeper and coming out for crosses as I had done before. I have always been all about that in previous years.

“But, now, I probably want to write off last season and I don’t mean that in a bad way. I don’t think I was playing particularly badly.

“There weren’t any howlers or bad mistakes but things were just not happening for me. It was just about me not being positive but I want to get back to where I was and help get confidence through the side, starting from me.

“People might say he’s 34 and finished, but I am far from finished. I keep myself in great shape and I want to get back to those days against Mansfield and Luton at Wembley in the promotion season when I came for everything and helped the back four out.

“I’ve always been a good shot-stopper so it’s just about getting back to that and tidying up little bits here and there. I just want to get back to playing well, as I did the season before last and when I came back for those three games in January before Popey was brought back.”