AIDAN Connolly is targeting a run of consecutive starts to prove he can stay fit and play a major part in York City’s season.

The 22-year-old attacker hit the post, teed up a goal for Louis Almond and got on the scoresheet himself during a lively substitute outing in Saturday’s 3-2 defeat at Salford.

He was back on the bench after missing the previous weekend’s 2-2 draw at Leamington, having been recalled from the Bootham Crescent wilderness to make new boss Martin Gray’s first XI in his opening match as manager – the 2-1 home triumph over Brackley.

A problem with his quad muscle meant Connolly, who underwent calf surgery in the summer, missed the trip to the Midlands but the former Dundee United winger believes the only way he can overcome such setbacks is by playing National League North football on a more regular basis.

Connolly only kicked off six matches during previous boss Gary Mills’ 11-month tenure, having made a bright start to his Minstermen career that even attracted attention from Championship club Reading.

In the final month of Mills’ reign, Connolly was then placed on the transfer list and told to train with the youth team after the former Notts County manager claimed the latter had told him he did not want to play for the club.

The former Scotland under-19 international has since refuted that suggestion and, on his hopes for better fortunes under Gray, Connolly added: “It’s always good to get game time and I just want to play every weekend.

“That was the same under the last manager and, hopefully, I can do that now. I had the operation in the summer and, after coming back, I didn’t play many games and, then, was only training with the youth team, so that meant I got a little niggle when I was brought back into the side.

“The manager has given me a chance by putting me back in training and I’ve been working hard. Now, I’ve got to prove to everybody that I can stay fit and that will come through playing games, even though that will be hard at the start, because I will pick up niggles here and there but, hopefully, I can take care of that now.

“All I want to do is keep myself fit – that’s the main thing and, once I play a few games in a row, I will feel good about myself.”

Connolly’s last-minute strike in Greater Manchester was his seventh in 29 appearances for City – a healthy strike-rate considering 11 of those outings have been from the bench.

The pleasure of finding the next again was tempered by the final result, though, with Connolly adding: “It’s good to score goals and that’s what gets you seen and noticed, but it’s not as sweet when you’re not winning games, because you are doing it for the team.”

Despite Harrogate Town and Salford now enjoying respective 11 and 10-point advantages over the Minstermen and both boasting a game in hand, Connolly also shares his manager’s opinion that the double-figured gaps can be closed.

“I can see we have a good dressing room and I think we’ll start picking up wins,” Connolly reasoned. “If we’d had another 15 minutes (on Saturday), I think we’d have got a point or a win at Salford but, unfortunately, we ran out of time.

“Despite what the table says, I don’t think they are ten points better than us. The gap is not too big either with almost two-thirds of the season left to play but, in this league, you have to be dogged and fight.

“Saturday was a disappointing result but, hopefully, we can pick up a couple of wins now.”