JOHN McCOMBE has admitted he was relieved to win back his York City starting place so swiftly.
The 29-year-old centre-back was dropped for last month’s trip to Exeter after being hauled off at half-time during the 2-2 home draw with Cambridge in the previous fixture.
Dave Winfield replaced him on both occasions but has returned to bench duty for the last two matches with McCombe back in the fold.
The Pontefract-born defender had to watch from the sidelines for long periods during the first half of last season when he fell out of favour at former club Mansfield, so he is determined to become a permanent fixture again in the Minstermen’s first XI.
He said: “I’m the same as everyone. I want to be playing every week and doing well for York.
“I was a bit gutted about going out of the team. I spoke to the gaffer after the Cambridge game and he left me out following that chat.
“That’s happened to me a few times in football and it will happen again. It’s something you have to get on with and get your head down to make sure you are ready when you get the chance.
“Luckily, for me, it only took a week to get back in this time and I think I have done quite well for the last couple of games. I just want to keep that going now by playing well and working hard to help the team pick up some points.”
McCombe finished on the winning side for the Minstermen in 11 of his 21 matches following a mid-season switch from Field Mill and he feels the team have been highly unfortunate not to have tasted victory during the opening seven fixtures of this campaign, adding: “We have performed very well in a lot of the games and we should definitely have got more than five points, especially from those early games.
“We have gone out of the two cup competitions but we were playing two good League One teams who have both just been relegated from the Championship and, for the majority of the games, we were the better team. We’ve just got to take our chances and cut out the small errors we have been making at the back as well.”
Last term, McCombe formed part of a strong defensive unit, alongside current central-defensive partner Keith Lowe, that finished the season with 14 shut-outs from 18 games.
In contrast, only one team - Wycombe - have been kept off the score-sheet this season, although Tranmere, Doncaster and Northampton all needed stoppage time to breach the Minstermen’s back line and McCombe reckons the defence are not far away from replicating those impressive 2013/14 statistics.
“Like the points, we deserve to have kept more clean sheets,” he insisted. “We have been restricting the opposition to a few chances and that was the case again against Barnsley during the first half.
“The lack of clean sheets is not something we will be getting down about, because we know we have defended well in most games and just need to improve in certain areas.”
McCombe also added that full-backs Marvin McCoy and Femi Ilesanmi have proven excellent summer recruits, saying: “They are two good full-backs who have slotted in very well.
“I think they’ve done superbly. They’re both athletic and good defenders, who are tidy on the ball as well.”
Having scored 22 goals as a professional, meanwhile, McCombe is hoping to soon capitalise on the quality of Luke Summerfield’s set-pieces.
“Lowey’s got a couple of goals already and we both had a chance each on Tuesday night,” the ex-Port Vale defender said. “The deliveries have been superb from corners and I’ve got on the end of a few.
“I’ve not scored but, hopefully, I can get one or two this season.”