YORK City chief Terry Dolan has admitted for the first time reserve goalkeeper Russ Howarth is piling on the pressure on number-one Alan Fettis.

Howarth will be keeping his fingers crossed for fresh international honours next month when England Under-20s take on Portugal in a friendly at Southampton's St Mary's Stadium on November 21.

It will be the first Under-20 fixture since the World Youth Championships in Nigeria in 1999.

According to Dolan, Howarth, who was capped by England Under-18s last season but is ineligible for the under-19s set-up, would be fully deserving of an international call to arms.

With Fettis rested in midweek, Howarth made his first senior City start of the season in midweek in the Minstermen's 2-0 LDV Vans Trophy defeat at Notts County.

Despite the reverse, Howarth was the man of the match as he pulled off a number of fine saves and his form ensured Fettis' first team berth could no longer be so assured admitted the City boss.

"One of the pleasing aspects of Tuesday night was the form of Russ," said Dolan.

"He continued with the form he has been showing in the reserves and played excellently.

"He is playing as well as I have seen him and he is putting real pressure on Alan Fettis."

In another boost for City, the Minstermen's second string stopped a run of defeats for the club with a 2-0 win at Blackpool yesterday.

Goals in each half from Nick Richardson and Kieran Darlow capped a fine display from a young City second-string, which included a debut at that level for first-year trainee Sean Davies at left-back.

Central defender Gary Hobson also tasted his first action since the start of the season, coming through 20 minutes unscathed.

Updated: 11:28 Thursday, October 18, 2001