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On-loan Ben Gibson on York City final alert
11:10am Friday 11th May 2012 in Sport
ON-LOAN Middlesbrough defender Ben Gibson is poised to go straight back into York City’s side for tomorrow’s FA Trophy final at Wembley despite missing the last four games through suspension.
Gibson’s ban, for a red card at Cambridge United, meant the 19-year-old played no part in the Minstermen’s 1-0 win at Braintree that clinched a play-off place.
He was also ruled out for both legs of City’s semi-final win over Mansfield, while his involvement in City’s Trophy run has been limited to one appearance against Grimsby in the last eight.
But Mills has stressed that sentimentality can play no part in his team selections for tomorrow’s showcase encounter or for the return to Wembley eight days later in the Blue Square Bet Premier play-off final against Luton.
The City boss said: “It’s great to have a very good player in Ben Gibson coming back. His availability is a massive, massive plus for us.
“You cannot be sentimental when you are trying to win football games. There might be somebody who has played every league game this season but, if I think it’s not the right decision to play them at Wembley, I won’t do.
“There are two or three options for me in terms of different positions where I have big decisions to make. There are a couple where I’ve got to get my peace of mind before the play-off final.
“Everyone deserves a pat on the back for what they have done for the club this season but I’m only interested in winning the next two matches.”
Gibson could return at left-back or centre-back with one change likely to be forced on Mills as Chris Doig’s groin injury is expected to rule him out although he should be fit enough to feature against Luton.
Jon Challinor, though, is set to retain his place at right-back after limping out of the action with a tight hamstring at Mansfield on Monday. Otherwise, only long-term casualties Scott Kerr, David McGurk and Eugen Bopp will be missing as Mills prepares for two games which, if they are won, he reckons will eclipse anything he has achieved in the game, despite the City chief still holding the record as the youngest player ever to play in a European Cup or Champions League final.
Mills added: “I want to put a smile back on everybody’s faces and make them proud of this football club. It’s been a fantastic season so far but we’ve got to finish it in style with two wins at Wembley.
“That would take some beating in terms of anything I have achieved in all the years I have been in football as a player and manager.
“I know the importance of these two games and I know all the hard work everybody connected with the club has put in and we are not going to let that slip away now.”
Rather than proving a distraction, Mills also feels tomorrow’s match will serve as a great chance for his players to become accustomed with the experience of playing in a Wembley final prior to taking on Luton for the chance to win promotion back to the Football League.
He said: “We want to win this game just as much as we want to win the play-off final because winning breeds confidence. I want the players to feel what it’s like to win at Wembley so they can take that into the following weekend.
“I could not have written the script better and it’s perfect timing to have the Trophy final first because it gives the players that experience of having a match day at Wembley. That will settle them all down hopefully for the play-off final.”
Mills also believes that his team will go into tomorrow’s final in a more relaxed frame of mind than they would have done if they had been knocked out of the play-off semi-finals.
“If the worst had happened and we had not got to the play-off final, there would have been that added pressure to win the Trophy but that’s gone away now,” he reasoned.
“While I’m not for one second saying we’re not going to win, that little bit of added pressure, whether it be five per cent or ten per cent, has been taken away now and I want my players to go out and have the freedom to express themselves on the best pitch in the country.”
Mills certainly expects Wembley to be better hosts than Mansfield, adding: “Field Mill was a horrible place to go. They’d taken all the light bulbs out of our dressing room and done nothing to the pitch for four days but we know that won’t be the case tomorrow.”
Another 1-0 victory at Mansfield, though, has given the team even greater belief ahead of their two momentous matches, according to Mills, who said: “We’ve had four 1-0 wins in our last five matches and they give you massive strength. The win at Cambridge started that run and we have got stronger and stronger.”
The Minstermen travelled down to North London yesterday with Mills busy trying to arrange an alternative training base due to the Metropolitan Police’s East Molesey base in Surrey being waterlogged.
Mills said: “It’s a little blow but I don’t mind if we have to train on a roundabout in the middle of London, as long as there is grass on it. We all know our jobs now. We just have to be mentally and physically fit for the game, which we are.”
Goalkeeper: Michael Ingham – former Northern Ireland international who has kept the second-highest number of clean sheets in City’s history.
Right-back: Jon Challinor – converted from midfield with great success this season. Will come up against a Newport team he played for twice last season.
Centre-back: Chris Smith – experienced skipper who will be making his first trip to Wembley at the age of 30. Won more The Press man-of-the-match awards in this season’s Trophy run than any other City player.
Centre-back: Dan Parslow – completing his sixth season as a City stalwart. A former Welsh under-21 international who will be hoping to make up for the pain of losing the 2009 final by getting one over his compatriots.
Left-back: Ben Gibson – promising teenage defender on loan from Middlesbrough. Making a timely return from a four-match suspension.
Centre midfield: James Meredith – left-back has also operated impressively in midfield. A member of City’s losing side in the 2010 play-off final at Wembley.
Centre midfield: Lanre Oyebanjo – another full-back who has been pushed further up the field. A Republic of Ireland U21 international.
Centre midfield: Paddy McLaughlin – has made a big impression in his first full season as a professional following a summer move from Newcastle. Netted 13 times this term, a free-kick specialist.
Striker: Matty Blair – top scorer during City’s Trophy run with seven goals. Grabbed the 90th-minute header at Luton that booked a place in the final.
Striker: Jason Walker – scored winning goal for Barrow against Stevenage in the 2010 Trophy final. City’s joint-top marksman with Blair on 18 goals.
Striker: Ashley Chambers – made his debut for Leicester at age of 15, making him the Foxes’ youngest-ever player.
Subs: Paul Musselwhite (43-year-old who filled in for Ingham impressively in last three games of the league season), Adriano Moké (graduate of the Glenn Hoddle Academy with frightening pace and skills), Jamie Reed (prolific from the bench), Jamal Fyfield (versatile performer), Michael Potts (former Blackburn reserve who has impressive poise on the ball).
Goalkeeper: Glyn Thompson – experienced former Shrewsbury, Fulham, Mansfield and Chesterfield shot-stopper who lost his place to loan signing Karl Darlow in March and April. Due to play because of the latter’s expected ineligibility.
Right-back: David Pipe – recently voted South Wales Argus’ Player of the Year and a former Wales international who played for City boss Gary Mills at Notts County.
Centre-back: Gary Warren – captain who joined from Team Bath in May 2009.
Centre-back: Ismail Yakubu – nephew of Premier League striker Aiyegbeni. Scored in the penalty shoot-out that saw AFC Wimbledon promoted to the Football League at the expense of Luton last year.
Left-back: Andrew Hughes – former Wales schoolboy international and Cardiff City apprentice. Nicknamed “Tiger” for his tackling ability.
Centre midfield: Max Porter – ex-England ‘C’ skipper on loan from AFC Wimbledon.
Centre midfield: Lee Minshull – another loan recruit from AFC Wimbledon, who also featured in the 2011 play-off final win against Luton.
Centre midfield: Sam Foley – top scorer with 12 goals. Former Republic of Ireland under-18 international, as comfortable in attack as he is playing in midfield.
Striker: Romone Rose – played for first club QPR in the Championship. Only 22 but has also plied his trade at Histon, Northampton, Cheltenham and Torquay.
Striker: Elliott Buchanan – another well-travelled 22-year-old, who has been on the books of Hayes, Stevenage, AFC Wimbledon, Sutton and Northwich.
Striker: Nat Jarvis – tomorrow’s game will be his last for Newport with the 20-year-old’s loan from Cardiff coming to an end.
Subs: Jake Harris (four-goal top scorer in the Trophy despite not starting a single tie), Darryl Knights (played for Yeovil in 2007 League One play-off final), Lee Baker (ex-Kidderminster left-back), Paul Rodgers (former Arsenal defender), Wayne Hatswell (in losing Cambridge team in 2008 Conference play-off final).