WORLD Student Games semi-finalist Ben Purkiss is relishing a right-flank partnership with flying winger Adam Smith next season.
Purkiss, who has returned from helping Great Britain finish fourth at the international university tournament in Serbia, is now fully focused on completing his pre-season preparations with York City.
In his absence Smith was City’s top performer during the club’s opening friendly against Leeds United.
A combination of injury, personal circumstances and ineligibility for cup matches meant Purkiss and Smith only started seven games together last season with five of those in the final fortnight of the Blue Square Premier campaign.
And, since signing for the Minstermen in March 2007, Purkiss has been paired with 13 different players on the right wing.
They have included converted strikers – Craig Farrell, Paul Brayson, Simon Brown, makeshift central-midfielders – Mark Convery, Ross Greenwood, Nicky Wroe, Alex Meechan, Simon Rusk – and left-footed, fill-in Martyn Woolford.
Simon Russell, meanwhile, failed to nail down a permanent place in front of Purkiss last season and, until Smith’s arrival, the former Gainsborough full-back had only played behind two other specialist right wingers for City – Sam Duncum and Peter Bore, whose Bootham Crescent careers were limited to one-month loan stays.
But, having also added left-sided Craig Nelthorpe to his squad over the summer, manager Martin Foyle has suggested a willingness to attack down both flanks next season and, while having a friendly swipe at Smith’s ball-hogging tendencies, Purkiss believes the former Gainsborough duo can develop a consistent understanding.
He said: “When we played together towards the end of the season, it seemed to work quite well and I’m quite happy to give him the ball and let him do his stuff. “He needs to know when to pass it if I’m overlapping though because when you give him the ball you don’t get it back a lot of the time!
“Seriously, I hope the partnership can get better because he enjoys playing with me and I enjoy playing with him.”