JON McCarthy admits the last thing he wants to do is heap any more misery on York City when he makes his debut for Carlisle tomorrow, writes Dave Stanford.

But the Bootham Crescent legend insisted he will have no choice but to be professional after explaining to the Evening Press his heart-wrenching decision to sign for United in favour of the Minstermen.

The Northern Ireland winger made just one appearance for City after returning to the club on non-contract terms earlier this month.

However, after helping City to a 3-2 win over Leyton Orient, Carlisle quickly stepped in and offered McCarthy much-improved terms to those on the table from cash-strapped City.

McCarthy, who has signed a one-month contract at Brunton Park, said he was heartbroken to know of City's current plight and had he been rich enough not to have money worries he would have loved to have stayed at Bootham Crescent.

"There was always interest from other clubs but I had a special rapport with the fans at York and out of respect for the club I really wanted to give it a go," he said.

"I really enjoyed my time with City. The lads and the training was great and I got a real buzz from playing for the club again.

"It would have been ideal if I could have stayed but the situation is that the club simply doesn't have any money.

"If I had managed to play for Birmingham City for ten years and I didn't need to still play from a financial point of view then it could have been different.

"But the fact of the matter is I do still need to play for a couple of more years yet. I'm not quite ready for my pension."

McCarthy was full of praise for manager Terry Dolan, who he said had always been 'straight' with him during his time at City and said he was impressed by the spirit forging through the City ranks.

"It's going to be a bit strange and awkward for me tomorrow but I have got to be professional about it," said McCarthy.

"And it looks an interesting challenge for me here at Carlisle. They seem to be one of the few clubs who are able to sign players at the moment.

"I've only signed a one-month contract with a view to then getting an 18-month deal, so I've still got to prove myself.

"I just hope that York City are able to sort things out. It's a great club with great fans."

Carlisle will be without defenders Darren Kelly, who is serving a one-match ban, and Will McDonagh who will sit out the second match in a three-game suspension.

Boss Roddy Collins does, however, have last season's top scorer Richie Foran back from suspension.

Updated: 12:33 Friday, November 29, 2002