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Walker woe for York City ahead of Bradford derby
YORK City striker Jason Walker is doubtful for tomorrow’s Yorkshire derby at Bradford City.
Walker has been on crutches since Tuesday night’s 4-0 Johnstone’s Paint Trophy home defeat to Coventry, with City unable as yet to gain an accurate diagnosis of the injury following hospital x-rays.
Should there be no improvement in Walker’s condition, Jamie Reed is in line to make his first start of the season after scoring twice for the second successive reserve game in a 3-0 behind-closed-doors victory over Scunthorpe this week.
Centre-back David McGurk, who completed 90 minutes in that match which saw Jonathan Smith join Reed on the scoresheet, could also be in line for a shock recall having been sidelined by a succession of injuries since New Year’s Day.
On Walker’s condition, a concerned Mills said: “Jason Walker is on crutches at the moment. He’s had an x-ray but hasn’t fractured anything and there’s no swelling so we’re not sure what the problem is.
“He’s finding it hard to put any weight on his foot and we’re just hoping it clears up in the next 24 hours. He’s done excellently recently for us and has looked sharp and fit.
“He’s been working really hard and I am a big admirer of his. He gets the team playing when he does what he’s good at and it will be a blow if we’ve lost him but that’s why we have a squad.
“Jamie Reed got another couple of goals for the reserves and he feels his best position is down the middle. He’s expressed that belief to me on a number of occasions so now might be an opportunity for him to step in.”
Right-back Lanre Oyebanjo is unavailable due to a thigh problem and Mills will also give a late fitness test to Chris Doig after he limped out of the action with a tight calf muscle during the second half of the Coventry match.
Should Doig be declared unfit, then Mills might turn to two-time Press Player of the Year McGurk at Valley Parade, saying: “We’ve had three good reserve games in the last three weeks and David McGurk did well against Scunthorpe after getting another 90 minutes.
“He’s getting closer now and getting him back to full fitness and pushing for a place is important to us. He could be in the squad tomorrow and might even play.
“He’s had those three matches and is looking sharp in training so who knows? If Doigy’s not fit, I have a decision to make at centre-half.”
Mills added that top scorer Michael Coulson, midfielder Paddy McLaughlin and utility man Dan Parslow would not necessarily return to the side after being left out against Coventry.
“It’s not always a case of resting players,” he said about their midweek omissions. “I will give players the opportunity to play in games if I feel the time is right.”
Having failed to score in the last three games, including two defeats, a defiant Mills also insisted there is no “major crisis” at the 14th-placed club.
He reasoned: “We gave the game away the other night but there’s no major crisis here. I’m enjoying the season because we worked hard to get to the point where we are playing these clubs week in, week out.
“We’re going to Bradford tomorrow which is a magnificent game to look forward to.
“We’ve all got to relish and embrace that, as players, fans and management staff, while understanding we have stepped up a level in a short space of time and have to be at our best week in, week out.
“We won a lot of games last season and you have to keep working hard to make sure that continues. We’ve not won as many games as I, or anybody, would have liked but we’ve been creating chances.
“We’ve just not been putting them away so I’m 50 per cent happy at the moment. I would be more concerned if we weren’t getting opportunities and we were excellent in the first half against Coventry but individual mistakes cost us in the second.
“Those individuals had to hold their hands up and say they cost us the game.
“Now we’ve got to go to Bradford with smiles on our faces, feeling ten foot tall and ready to give a good account of ourselves.”