MICHAEL Coulson could make an unexpected playing return for York City at Bristol Rovers tomorrow.

The 24-year-old forward made his first appearance in five months during a specially-arranged game at Sunderland yesterday, where he lined up with City’s youth-team players.

Minstermen chief Nigel Worthington will now be assessing Coulson’s physical and mental reaction to that 45-minute outing before deciding whether to include him in today’s travelling party.

Coulson suffered a cruciate ligament injury during City’s 1-0 victory at Accrington Stanley back on October 23. The team climbed up to ninth in the League Two standings after that victory but, in his absence, have nosedived into the relegation zone.

Coulson remains the side’s fourth top scorer on five goals – only four behind leading marksman Jason Walker – and Worthington is now keen to involve him in the fight for Football League survival.

The City boss said: “We will see how Michael has come through yesterday’s game and then decide whether he travels with us. Hopefully, he will be in the mix.

“I know he was doing a very good job for the team and it would be a boost to get him back on the pitch. He’s done very well in training but you just need to get over one or two mental hurdles when you’ve had an injury like he’s had.

“He’s fine physically – that has been confirmed by Lilleshall.”

Lanre Oyebanjo could also be involved at the Memorial Ground following the calf problem that has seen him fail to figure during Worthington’s reign but Scott Kerr (calf), Chris Doig (ankle) and Jon Challinor (broken leg) are sidelined.

Yesterday’s transfer deadline for loan signings also passed with no more additions or departures, with Worthington declaring: “I am delighted with the four loans I have been able to bring in.“We have Arron Jameson as cover for Michael Ingham, Richard Cresswell for his experience and know-how, Josh Carson with his bundles of energy and Adam Reed, who will also give us more energy.”

The addition of Reed, meanwhile, means another player is likely to join Michael Rankine and Alex Rodman as surplus to requirements this weekend with Worthington only able to name five on-loan players in his matchday squad.

Reed, Carson, Cresswell and England under-19 international Jack O’Connell look certain to feature, leaving Worthington to decide whether to leave out experienced midfielder John McGrath or dispense with Jameson on the bench.

The City boss has also told any inactive loan signings they are free to return to their parent clubs, where they will be ineligible until the end of the season, or stay and wait for a possible chance at Bootham Crescent.

“The ball’s in their court,” Worthington explained. “I can only apologise to them because I have brought my own loan players in, which might be a little unfair, but I have to make decisions.

“If some of those players would prefer to go back to their contracted clubs that’s up to them but, if they stay around in case they are needed, that’s fine from my point of view.”

Ben Everson has had his loan spell at Gateshead extended until the summer.

Worthington has challenged his team to begin the match in the same manner that they finished the last one when Richard Cresswell’s 72nd-minute penalty heralded a spirited finale to the 2-1 loss at Torquay.

City have fallen behind on six, seven and 21 minutes in their three losses under Worthington, who said: “We need to start how we finished at Torquay and take the game to them and keep it tight at the back which we have not been doing as a team.

“We need to give ourselves a fighting chance and not concede in the first 15 or 20 minutes as we have been. Then, with the chances we are creating, we have to be ruthless.”

Four of City’s relegation rivals – Barnet, Aldershot, Accrington and Torquay – play today and again on Easter Monday, when Worthington’s team entertain Plymouth.

Today’s big games (3pm unless stated): Barnet v Dagenham, Rochdale v Aldershot, Wycombe v Accrington, Northampton v Torquay (7.45pm).

Tomorrow’s big games: Bristol Rovers v YORK CITY, Plymouth v Exeter (1pm).