Paul Brayson is finally hoping to team up with a Beardsley in attack after signing for City. DAVE FLETT talks to York's new striker.

THE Brayson-Beardsley striking partnership might not have hit the heights hoped for at Newcastle United a decade ago, but York City boss Billy McEwan might still consider it an option next season.

McEwan's summer signing Paul Brayson spent two seasons with England's former World Cup semi-finalist Peter Beardsley as he kicked off his career at St James' Park.

Unfortunately, for Brayson, he was never paired with Beardsley in a senior match for the Magpies as his outings were restricted to two League Cup appearances against Bristol City and Hull City before he moved on to Reading.

Now, though, with McEwan also signing Beardsley's namesake Chris over the summer, the pairing could belatedly find its way on to a professional teamsheet.

Peter Beardsley was just one of a galaxy of stars that Brayson rubbed shoulders with during an eye-opening apprenticeship with Newcastle.

The 5ft 4in forward made his full debut alongside the likes of Les Ferdinand, Philippe Albert, Shaka Hislop, Keith Gillespie and Warren Barton when Kevin Keegan was in charge of team affairs.

He then played in the same side as John Barnes and Ian Rush after Kenny Dalglish had taken over the reins and was part of a first-team squad that also included Alan Shearer, Faustino Asprilla, David Ginola and Andy Cole during a golden era at the club.

If Carlsberg did football educations then they would probably still fall short of that enjoyed by Brayson but, among the many masters he learned his trade from, City's new number nine selects three players as virtual professors of the game.

He said: "For skill in matches, David Ginola was unbelievable but, for out-and-out scoring, Andy Cole and Alan Shearer could make a goal out of nothing and win you games 1-0. You don't get many players like them and they were my heroes watching from the inside and I still support Newcastle.

"But I was there for four years and the quality of all the forwards was incredible. If you can't learn off them, you will struggle to learn off anyone and I was also lucky enough to have Kevin Keegan and Kenny Dalglish as managers."

Having found opportunities at Newcastle inevitably limited, Brayson moved to Reading in a £100,000 deal, but only managed one goal in 48 matches before signing for Cardiff in 2000.

He was a member of the Bluebirds team that won promotion from League Two and also played in the shock 2-1 FA Cup victory over Leeds United the following season.

Brayson then joined Cheltenham Town in 2002 but, two years later, he was released by former Minstermen boss John Ward and, following an unsuccessful trial at KitKat Crescent, dropped out of full-time football and combined leading Northwich Victoria's line with running his own taxi.

He has reached double figures during the last three seasons in front of goal, including during two Conference campaigns, but relished the chance to return to the professional game when City boss McEwan came calling over the summer.

He said: "I was very interested when I heard York would like to talk to me. I had been offered a new deal at Northwich and had three great years there, but York is a club that should be in the Football League and hopefully will be again after next season.

"It's very hard with only one automatic promotion place, so you have got to be the most consistent team all season to win the league. Aside from us, I think Oxford will be up there and Torquay seem to be splashing out money.

"There's also always one or two teams that you don't expect to do well, like Dagenham last season and Burton might be up there as well."

Brayson will compete with five other forwards - Craig Farrell, Onome Sodje, Richard Brodie, Beardsley and Alex Rhodes - for a starting place next season but he has not always been regarded as an out-and-out striker.

About the question of his flexibility, Brayson added: "I like to play up front but also in behind the strikers to slip people in. I can play out on the wings as well but I prefer playing down the middle."

Brayson also feels fellow new recruit Stuart Elliott will prove a shrewd acquisition.

The pair were trainees together at Newcastle and team-mates with Northwich for the last two seasons.

About his old pal, Brayson said: "I've known Stu since the first day he came to Newcastle about 14 years ago. He's a tough-tackling midfielder whose attributes are winning the ball, passing it and talking. He's very vocal and will organise everything, as well as bringing a lot of stability in there. When people are dragged out of place, he's a good communicator and will get everybody back and solid."