MIDFIELDER Scott Kerr will be handed the captain’s armband for York City’s Blue Square Bet Premier clash at Cambridge United tomorrow.
Kerr, who assumed that responsibility at previous club Lincoln City, will take over from Chris Smith as skipper with the former Tamworth centre-back starting a two-match suspension.
The Abbey Stadium match will be Kerr’s tenth appearance since his transfer deadline day move to Bootham Crescent and manager Gary Mills will choose Kerr to lead the team out despite the claims of previous City sentinels Michael Ingham, Daniel Parslow and David McGurk. Mills said: “Scott Kerr will probably be our captain tomorrow because he’s a leader. He was skipper at Lincoln for numerous years and he’s come here and fitted straight in.
“Even with Chris Smith as skipper, he has still been very vocal on the pitch so he will get the armband. As I’ve said before, I’m not a fan of making goalkeepers captains and, while David McGurk and Daniel Parslow are good players, they aren’t that vocal. Scott Kerr is and his performances have been a major plus.”
McGurk, who City turned down a £60,000 offer from Luton for earlier this season, has been an unused substitute in the last three matches after recovering from an injury that sidelined him for the previous two games. City chief Mills has now told last season’s Press Player of the Year to stake his claim for a permanent recall during Smith’s enforced absence, saying: “The back four have been doing superbly but Chris Smith has picked up a suspension so David McGurk will step in now.
“The door’s opened for Dave and it’s down to him now to show me he wants to keep the shirt until the end of the season.”
Ashley Chambers returned to training yesterday after missing Tuesday’s 2-1 win over Mansfield due to a hamstring problem. He is back in contention for Cambridge, while Levi Mackin has also recovered from his thigh injury.
Midweek two-goal hero Jamie Reed, meanwhile, has been challenged to reproduce his form as a second-half substitute from the start if he makes the first XI for the fourth time in his fledgling City career at Cambridge.
Reed has yet to complete 90 minutes for the Minstermen with all of his four goals coming from the bench but Mills believes the former Bangor City forward is now better prepared for Blue Square Bet Premier football than when he arrived at Bootham Crescent during the New Year.
The City boss said: “When he’s come on, he’s done particularly well and, when he’s started, he’s not done as well.
“He’s got stuff to learn and we’ve talked about that but, for 35 minutes on Tuesday night, his overall game was a lot, lot better.
“He was holding the ball up, linking well with other players and showing good vision. He topped that off with two good goals and he’s sent out a message to me.”
Added Mills: “There’s no question that he’s a goalscorer and can win you a game off the bench as he has done on a couple of occasions but I want him to give us that injection from the start as well.
“He’s looking sharper and fitter now than when he came to the club though and, in any industry, it can take time for people to settle into a new place.”
Cambridge have found themselves unexpectedly embroiled in a battle against the drop this season and, with points precious for tomorrow’s hosts, Mills is not expecting an easy time, saying: “They are in a dogfight and have had a poor season.
“They’re not out of the woods and are trying to pick up points.
“They got a late equaliser last Saturday and a 0-0 draw against Luton in the week so that tells us how difficult tomorrow will be but we’ve kept clean sheets at Barrow and Altrincham recently and that’s what we’ll be looking for first while trying to win the game as well.”
Midfielder Neil Barrett, meanwhile, will return to full training next week after being granted a spell of compassionate leave.
Mills explained: “Neil’s young lad George was rushed into hospital and sometimes family comes first.
“He had a worrying time so we gave him a bit of time off but George is back home now so Neil will be back in training and looking for a shirt again.”