YORK City’s hero of the hour Leon Constantine has signed for the club until the end of the season.
Constantine climbed off the bench to set up a goal for Peter Till and then got on the scoresheet during Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Rushden and Diamonds.
It was the perfect tonic for City supporters at the end of a week described as “horrendous” by manager Martin Foyle, following the disappointing Bank Holiday defeat at Fleetwood, the deadline day sale of Richard Brodie to Blue Square Bet Premier rivals Crawley and court appearances for strikers Michael Gash and Michael Rankine.
Despite the transfer window having closed on Tuesday, Constantine has been allowed to sign a permanent deal for City as he was unattached to a club after being released by League Two outfit Hereford United at the end of last season.
Foyle previously worked with Constantine at Port Vale where he plundered 26 goals during the 2006/7 campaign before earning a move to Leeds United as recently as three seasons ago.
His Elland Road spell was blighted with injury though and he has spent the last two years with Northampton and Hereford, netting just nine times in 67 matches for both teams. But, having also bagged 25 goals in the 2003/4 season for Southend and once persuaded Torquay to part with a then record transfer fee of £75,000, Foyle is happy with the pedigree of his new 32-year-old signing.
The City chief said: “He can score the bread and butter goals and, when he came on, he held the ball up and brought people into play to help us keep possession in the final third for long periods.
“We sold Richard Brodie prior to the deadline and couldn’t bring anybody in. I’ve never made so many phone calls looking for players since then and Leon is somebody who I’ve kept in touch with.
“He wanted to come to York and I had to sign somebody unemployed. I know what he can offer and, if we put an arm around him and make him feel wanted, he will give us plenty in return.
“I won’t be putting any pressure on him but he will give us that sense of seniority in the changing room to help the younger ones. He’s a fantastic lad who’s kept fit by training with friends in London.
“He’s got a football brain and always has a smile on his face which I like and he’s signed with us for the rest of the season.”
Foyle was relieved to be commenting on a victory after difficult pre-match preparations which included Brodie denying a club statement alleging he asked to leave the club and Gash pleading guilty to affray and Rankine a lesser charge in relation to a city-centre disturbance last summer.
The City boss said: “It’s been a horrendous week. There have been a lot of lies spreading around the club and it’s not been a pretty place to be in but the players have shown there’s a good team spirit and that we will all stick together through the bad times.
“It was a very, very good team performance (against Rushden) and I was delighted with their attitudes after last week’s very poor display at Fleetwood. They owed me and themselves a performance and they delivered it against a very good football side.
“Everybody wants to see their team roll their sleeves up and show passion. They didn’t do that last week but did on Saturday and will do again next week. My benchmark for the team is still ten games.”
Till’s 76th-minute strike was his second goal in City colours following a spectacular equaliser at Bath after encouragement from Foyle to become more potent.
Prior to his arrival at Bootham Crescent, the 24-year-old winger had failed to hit the target during his last 57 outings for previous clubs Walsall, Chesterfield and Grimsby, with Foyle adding: “He’s probably fed up of hearing us shouting at him to get into shooting positions more but he’s got two goals in two weeks now.”
Defender Djoumin Sangare suffered a head injury that led to his replacement by Duane Courtney in Saturday’s first half but he will not add to Foyle’s long-term casualty list.
Midfielders Chris Carruthers and Levi Mackin are both facing one-month lay-offs with knee problems while George Purcell (ankle) has also failed to train for three weeks.
As a result, Foyle is considering a plunge into the loan market this week, saying: “Jimmy has got stitches in his head but he’ll probably be back in training heading the ball again today because he’s daft as a brush. Levi, Chris and George are all unavailable though, so I might be looking to bring one or two in on loan.”
City will play host to Chesterfield in a reserve fixture tomorrow.