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York City boss poised to cash in on Scott Kerr’s return to fray
YORK City midfielder Scott Kerr could start his first match in seven months during tomorrow night’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy second round home clash with Coventry.
Kerr, who suffered cruciate knee ligament damage at Luton back in March, enjoyed his first taste of competitive football since that FA Trophy semi-final second leg clash as a 66th-minute substitute during Saturday’s 0-0 League Two draw with Rotherham at Bootham Crescent.
His only prior outing came in last week’s behind-closed-doors reserve match against Newcastle when he completed an hour but City boss Gary Mills is now considering the 30-year-old vice-captain for a place in his starting XI against the Sky Blues.
“He wouldn’t have been out there on Saturday if he wasn’t close to starting,” Mills said about Kerr after his half-hour stint against the Millers. “He will get sharper the more minutes he gets and it might be better that he gets that in games like Saturday and tomorrow rather than in reserve matches.
“He’s got a big heart and, while some players might say I need a couple of reserve matches before coming back, he wanted to play before he’d even played a reserve match.
“If he does start, he’s also somebody that’s honest enough to tell you if it’s the right thing for the team for him to come off after 60 or 70 minutes.”
Mills added that he was pleased with the rousing reception the City fans in a 5,417-strong crowd gave Kerr when he entered the action against Rotherham.
He said: “I’m delighted to have him back, as everybody in the ground was and he deserved that welcome back. He’s been out for a long time and missed out on the two Wembley appearances after being a major part of our success last season. He left Lincoln to come to York knowing he wasn’t going to be a Football League player any more.
“He made a step backwards which was a gamble but I’m delighted that he could come back from his injury as a Football League player again and the fact that he’s available now will be a big bonus for us over the next few months.”
Kerr even had an 83rd-minute opportunity to mark a dream return to the City side but missed the target from 20 yards with Mills joking: “Some things don’t change – if he has a shot, it goes over the bar.”
The Bootham Crescent boss introduced Kerr as part of a double substitution that also saw on-loan Peterborough United midfielder Danny Kearns handed his City debut.
On the 21-year-old Irishman’s display, Mills said: “It’s early days for him but he can open teams up as he did for Ash Chambers’ late chance. That was a great ball in to create one of our few opportunities of getting a goal.”
Having shared the spoils with pre-season title favourites Rotherham, the City chief also added that his 14th-placed side should remain undaunted by any challenge that League Two can present them, saying: “It’s a tough League with good sides and players in it but, while the League table might suggest otherwise, I still don’t think we’ve seen anybody better than us.
“We’ve come into this League because we deserve to be in it and we will give it our best shot and keep playing how we do. It’s another game we haven’t lost against a tough side and that gives me confidence.
“You cannot create ten or 12 chances every game and, when you don’t, you have to be strong and wait for that opening, even if it comes in the 90th minute. We had a couple but did not take them and I’m disappointed not to score for two games on the trot because that’s unusual for us.
“That bit of quality in those situations can be the difference between a draw and a win but we kept our shape and I can’t tell you how happy I am with my players. I hope everybody else feels the same because, while I’m always disappointed not to win, we have to be happy with a point.”
Mills also expressed his enthusiasm at Saturday’s gate with Rotherham selling out their allocation of 1,600 tickets.
It was more than double the attendance that witnessed a 6-2 home win over Braintree at Bootham Crescent a year ago today and Mills added: “It was a great crowd and a lot bigger than the one we would have had this time last season. That’s how far we have progressed and we want to keep progressing.”