TWO York City players were attacked and beaten by thugs while enjoying a night out in the city centre.

The two men were set upon by a gang in what police say appears to have been an unprovoked attack near Ziggy's nightclub, in Micklegate. Centre back Chris Smith, 20, suffered concussion in the attack and was admitted to York District Hospital.

His friend, left back Neville Stamp, 20, escaped with cuts and bruises in the assault which began when a group of men rushed out of a red Nissan Bluebird and confronted them.

Police do not know how many men were in the group which set upon the two players.

Sergeant Colin Ventress of York police said today: "This appears to have been an unprovoked attack.

"As far as we can tell there is nothing to indicate they were attacked because they were York City players.

"It is just one of those regrettable incidents from the city centre."

City manager Terry Dolan said he was shocked by Sunday morning's attack, which he hoped was a one-off.

"The lads were just having a Saturday night out together.

"They have both just moved to the city, and they are two of the quietest lads you could ever wish to meet."

Chris Smith is believed to have been discharged from hospital after treatment for his injuries.

Terry Dolan said that although Neville Stamp was already out of the team with a groin strain, the nature of Chris Smith's injuries meant he must miss tonight's trip to Shrewsbury, and he would be out of action for a week.

Police are appealing for witnesses to the attack.

- Chris Smith has been substitute in City's last four games, but Neville Stamp has been hampered by injury and has yet to make an appearance for the club this season.

Updated: 14:12 Tuesday, August 28, 2001