YORK CITY boss Gary Mills is confident skipper Chris Smith will be fit for Saturday’s crunch League Two clash with Barnet.

The Minstermen manager is hoping to welcome back his defensive talisman to bolster a back four which was further depleted after Jon Challinor broke a leg in the second half of Tuesday night’s 0-0 draw with Gillingham at Bootham Crescent.

Challinor is expected to be out for up to six weeks with a broken fibula but he is added to a treatment room which also includes Lanre Oyebanjo (fractured skull), Chris Doig (ankle) and David McGurk (hamstring).

Smith sat out the Gills clash with a foot problem and Mills returned Daniel Parslow to his favoured centre-back position.

He described Challinor’s loss, which came as City posted a clean sheet after conceding four goals in each of the previous two games, as a “big blow”.

“He was excellent on Tuesday night,” the City chief said of Challinor. “It just seems there is a bit of a pattern going on, defensively, at the moment. We are picking up injuries and it is a big blow for us.

“We had a change around on Tuesday and I thought the back four were doing excellently.

“The same thing happened at Gillingham with Lanre. Now it has happened again.

“We are confident Chris Smith will be okay for the weekend. We are right on the edge defensively for players that are available.

“If he is fit, we may move Dan Parslow again, who went in at centre-half and did a superb job. We haven’t had a settled back four for a while and Jeff Miller (physio) has certainly been busy this season.

“We want to go to the next game with the same back four but injuries have stopped us doing that.”

Challinor has posted on Twitter that he is hoping the injury will take “four to six weeks” but Mills, who has suffered the same break, believes the length of recovery will be in the latter time frame.

He has not ruled out another plunge into the loan market if the situation worsens but, with a number of players already on those terms at Bootham Crescent, Mills is concerned at the “issues” that would arise from that decision.

Mills added: “I have broken my fibula and you are talking six weeks.

“At this stage of the season you are looking at the start of April and there is no doubt that is a big blow for us.

“We need to get Lanre back and it might be a case of fingers crossed and making a decision on whether to bring in another defender in the next week or two but hopefully not.

“We are topped up with loan players, which is an issue, so we will see.”