Season preview: Neil Barrett’s double-figure tilt

York Press: New signing Neil Barrett launches another advance New signing Neil Barrett launches another advance

Goals have been scarce from York City’s core, but Neil Barrett tells DAVE FLETT he can step up to the plate.

NEW midfielder Neil Barrett is targeting ten goals for York City next season. Barrett, 27, has issued a double-figure pledge having hit the target seven times for Blue Square rivals Ebbsfleet in 2008/9.

The former Chelsea trainee is confident of improving City’s potency from the middle of the park after the club endured a poor return from that department last campaign.

In a collective century of appearances, eight central midfielders and wide men failed to find the net for the Minstermen with Andy McWilliams (27 games), Levi Mackin (22), Simon Brown (17), Steven Hogg (11), Liam Shepherd (10), Niall Henderson (6), Peter Bore (4) and Gavin Rothery (3) all firing blanks.

Simon Rusk and Simon Russell, meanwhile, managed just one goal apiece in a combined total of 82 outings.

Veteran Mark Greaves (47 matches) provided the greatest threat from midfield although the last of his four-goal haul came when he was used as a defender at Lewes.

Ben Wilkinson (25 appearances), Adam Smith (17) and Christian Smith (15) were next best with two each.

Barrett, who played alongside Croatian legend Robert Prosinecki and future England international Peter Crouch as a Championship regular with Portsmouth, is hoping to match that 12-goal, 16-player tally on his own in 2009/10.

He said: “I’m definitely one to get in the box and I’d like to think I can get double figures in the season. I have a bit of a knack of being in the right place at the right time and I wouldn’t have been far off getting ten last season if I hadn’t been injured for the last six weeks.

“I will get my fair share and, hopefully, if I can chip in, it will help the forwards.”

Adam Smith and Alex Lawless, another close-season midfield signing, found the net during the 3-3 friendly draw against Leeds with Barrett, Andy Mackin and Levi Mackin also on target in subsequent matches against North Ferriby and Hartlepool.

All four will be hoping to kick off the new campaign in City’s starting line-up and each has pressed their claims during the pre-season programme.

Said Barrett: “You need that competition of not knowing whether you will play week in, week out and I’m up to the challenge. It won’t be easy to get in the team but it’s up to us all to force our way in for the first match.”

Barrett was originally unveiled as part of a three-man swoop on Ebbsfleet by City only for Michael Gash and Darius Charles’ £80,000 joint-transfer to fall through after the latter turned down a move to Bootham Crescent. Gash later joined in a separate deal worth £55,000.

The former Dundee midfielder believes Charles would also have proven a great acquisition, but feels the Minstermen still have enough ability at their disposal.

He said: “Michael and Darius are good players and the kind you want at your club but, from what I’ve seen so far, we have talented players in our dressing room who I’m sure can do well next season.”

Barrett also has no regrets about his decision to leave the Kent club amid their current financial struggles, adding: “It’s common knowledge that they are short of money at the moment.

“There was an attempt to keep me there but the offer they made me was a lot less than what I had been on last season. My agent made a few phone calls and, thankfully, the manager here got in contact and we took it from there.

“I’m delighted because there’s a lot of ambition to do well here and we are really looking forward to the season ahead.”

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