YORK City boss Gary Mills admits he has a “lovely headache” as he decides whether or not to hand Aidan Connolly his first start since November.
Connolly’s half-time introduction during Tuesday night’s FA Trophy semi-final, first leg clash against Lincoln helped turn the tie on its head and, following his second-half goal, the Minstermen will head for Sincil Bank on Saturday with a 2-1 advantage as the two sides compete for a place at Wembley’s May 21 final.
The 21-year-old Scotsman still heads the club’s assists table this season with six and is the third joint-top goalscorer on four despite long spells on the sidelines and the bench, with Mills pointing out: “There have been reasons why Aidan hasn’t been playing, whether that’s down to injuries, a lack of fitness or the way we’ve set up to play, but he came on and did really well on Tuesday night.
“He got the second goal and he has given me a good option and a lovely headache.”
Dan Parslow and Asa Hall are set to return after missing the first leg due to a sickness bug and, while Yan Klukowski remains ruled out due to his ongoing calf problem, Alex Whittle (tight hamstring) and Kyle Letheren (thigh) are expected to be fit despite feeling discomfort on Tuesday. On those back in contention, Mills added: “We know how important Dan Parslow is to us and he’s been outstanding since returning here. Everyone calls him Mr Consistent and he does play every game in the same manner.
“He wanted to train before the first game but realised he couldn’t and, when I spoke to him on the day of the match, he said he didn’t want to let me down, but there was just no way he could play. He was possibly our best player at Sutton, so it will be nice to have him back.
“Asa didn’t have his best game at Sutton, but he said he didn’t feel very strong there, so that might have been the start of his illness and it will be good to get him back too and go to Lincoln with a slightly stronger squad. We’ll just need to make sure they eat and drink enough to get their strength back.”
It is anticipated that Lincoln will shuffle their pack again with Danny Cowley having made nine changes in midweek from the team that lost 5-0 in the FA Cup at Arsenal three days earlier.
But Mills has little interest in the Imps’ selection plans, declaring: “It’s immaterial.
“They’ve put two teams out against us now in three weeks and they haven’t beaten us. We’ve now got to make sure that’s the case again to get us to Wembley.
“Tuesday was the best 45 minutes we’ve played since I’ve been back, because we were up against a very good Lincoln team but, even though we had some major players missing, we still had the belief to turn it around after they had dictated the first half.”
Despite being a goal to the good before the game kicks off, Mills went on to insist that would not alter his approach to the deciding leg.
“I only have one way of playing – when you have to defend, you defend and, when you have the opportunity to hurt the opposition, you hurt them,” he explained. “We know if we keep a clean sheet we get to Wembley, but I don’t set up teams to sit right behind the ball and invite the opposition to put it in our half and box because that’s very dangerous.
“We will be on the front foot with a desire to win the game by getting on the ball and playing when we can and, if it has to go long, then it will do too.” The City chief is also hoping Saturday’s officials will not be influenced by the kind of opposition touchline protestations witnessed during the Bootham Crescent contest.
“They will be appealing for everything that goes out of play and they’ll be shouting for free kicks, so we’ve just got to be disciplined and hope we have a strong referee,” Mills said.
On the continued search for reinforcements, meanwhile, Mills revealed: “There are two or three possibilities that have been put to us to build up the squad number wise and I feel we need to bring in one or two before next week’s deadline.”