City snap up Bay striker Bell and a couple of full-backs

York Press: City's new 6ft 5in striker Phil Bell celebrates one of his 21 goals for Whitley Bay City's new 6ft 5in striker Phil Bell celebrates one of his 21 goals for Whitley Bay

YORK City boss Billy McEwan made a triple swoop ahead of last night's loan transfer deadline.

The City boss has recruited Darlington left-back Craig James, Gainsborough Trinity right-back Ben Purkiss and Whitley Bay striker Phil Bell until the end of the season which would include any possible play-off fixtures, McEwan has moved quickly to bring in full-back cover with Darren Craddock ruled out for the rest of the season and Nathan Peat doubtful for tomorrow's trip to Exeter and then unavailable for the next two matches because of suspension.

James is, therefore, expected to make his full debut at St James Park tomorrow and semi-professional pair Purkiss and Bell, who has played two reserve games for the Minstermen as a trialist, will also travel to Devon.

Satisfied City boss McEwan said: "I'm pleased with all the business we have done. Craig James has been around a bit with Port Vale and Sunderland but he's out of the frame at Darlington and is another left-sided defender, which we needed. Phil Bell has done well and it's a chance for him to come in and do some full-time training with us.

"The same applies to Ben Purkiss, who we have been monitoring for a long time. He will give us added strength at the back."

James has slipped down the Darlington pecking order after the arrivals of former City loan man Evan Horwood and ex-Doncaster defender Tim Ryan.

The 6ft defender has made 29 appearances for the League Two side after a summer move from Port Vale but has been sent off twice this season and has not featured in the first team since February 3.

James started his career at Sunderland but made his senior debut on loan at the age of 19 while on loan at Hibernian, where he played 25 matches during the 2002/03 season.

He made just one appearance at Sunderland, where he was also loaned out for a first spell at Darlington, before completing a free transfer move to League One outfit Vale, where he went on to play 83 games.

Bell, aged 22, has scored 21 goals this season, spearheading Whitley Bay's Northern League title challenge.

The 6ft 5in striker has also attracted interest from Derby County, Norwich, Stockport and even Premiership neighbours Newcastle United, although Toon chief Glenn Roeder was understood to be put off by his age.

Bell joined Whitley in the summer from Northern League rivals Chester-Le-Street, where he had headed the scoring charts for the last two seasons.

Purkiss signed for Gainsborough after being released by Sheffield United in 2003.

He played in last summer's pre-season friendly against the Minstermen and has also represented the England five-a-side Futsal and Universities teams.

Purkiss' appearances for Gainsborough last season where restricted by his Sheffield University degree, which saw him spend most of the year in France.

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