ENGLAND under-19 international Jack O’Connell looks set to make his York City debut at Gillingham on Saturday after signing a one-month loan deal from Blackburn Rovers.
The 18-year-old defender was recruited by City boss Gary Mills after impressing as a trialist for the club during yesterday’s 1-0 reserve defeat to Scunthorpe and, with David McGurk having joined fellow centre-back Chris Doig in the treatment room, could go straight into the team at Priestfield.
A hamstring injury means McGurk is ruled out against the Kent high-fliers and, with O’Connell having made three appearances on loan at League Two rivals Rotherham before Christmas, Mills would not be afraid to pitch him straight in against Martin Allen’s side this weekend.
The Minstermen chief said: “David McGurk has gone down with a hamstring and won’t be fit for Saturday and Chris Doig won’t be either so Jack’s a possible option for Saturday.
"He’s left-sided and he’s played a few games in the division after his spell with Rotherham. He’s also played for England U19s and reminds me of Ben Gibson in the way he runs and plays. He also passes the ball well.”
Mills ran the rule over O’Connell’s fellow trialists Jameel Ible, Martin Devaney and David McDaid as well against the Iron.
Centre-back Ible, 19, is currently on Salford City’s books, with Mills also impressed by his potential, adding: “He plays for Salford but lives in Leeds and I like him.
“He’s got good attributes for a centre-half and will get better and better if we decided to do something with him.”
On League of Ireland pair Devaney and McDaid, meanwhile, Mills said: “David McDaid is the type of player I am looking for.
“He can play down the middle or as one of the wide strikers. Martin Devaney also did okay (yesterday) although it’s always difficult when you have not played for a while.”
Mills added the performance of John McReady was one of the biggest positives from the Scunthorpe game as he continues his comeback from a dislocated shoulder.
The 20-year-old midfielder, who has been on the bench in recent matches, has not played for the first team since mid-September but is now inching closer to a recall with Mills saying: “It was good to see John McReady getting sharper and fitter. He needed that game and perhaps needs two or three more.
“It was a good workout for our players because we needed a game and it was a competitive match. The final scoreline was a bit harsh on us although that was irrelevant really. It was more about what we got out of the game.”
Oli Johnson, meanwhile, completed 20 minutes as a second-half substitute for McDaid, following his two-month lay-off due to groin and stomach problems.
On the former Norwich forward’s comeback, Mills said: “I didn’t want him to do too much but we gave him a little workout. He’s got to get sharp now like John McReady, who’s been working hard to get fit.”
Yesterday’s City team also included first-team squad members Lanre Oyebanjo, Tom Allan, Jon Challinor, Lee Bullock and Ben Everson, who shaved the bar with the hosts’ best opportunity.
Left-back Danny Blanchett was not involved, however, with Mills revealing he has been made available for transfer.
“We are trying to get him a club at the moment and are hoping something can be sorted,” the City manager explained.
Experienced midfielder Lee Bullock will also be free to leave Bootham Crescent before the transfer window closes having failed to break back into City’s starting line up since being recalled from his loan spell at Gateshead.
Mills added: “Bully has expressed he wants to go and play games, which I understand at his age.
“People know he’s available but nothing’s come up yet and, because he is such a good pro, I know I will get a good shift from him if needed.”