FIRST-YEAR professionals Chris Dickenson and Mike Atkinson can force their way into first-team reckoning during pre-season, according to York City boss Nigel Worthington.

Striker Dickenson and right-back Atkinson were both offered senior terms at the end of last season and currently form part of Worthington’s 20-strong squad.

The Minstermen chief has insisted, however, that they are not just there to make up the numbers and has challenged the teenage pair to prove their League Two credentials when the players return for training next week.

In the past, opportunities for City’s new pros have often been limited with the likes of Jamie Hopcutt, Dean Lisles, Michael Emmerson and Chas Wrigley all leaving Bootham Crescent without making a single senior outing.

Tom Platt also had to wait for Worthington’s arrival in March for his first chance in the professional game and subsequently grasped it with both hands, starting each of the Minstermen’s unbeaten last six games which secured the club’s Football League status.

The combative midfielder was subsequently rewarded with a new two-year deal at City and Worthington also threw in centre-back Tom Allan, a member of the same under-18 group as Dickenson and Atkinson, who signed pro terms under Gary Mills last autumn, for his full debut in April’s crucial 2-0 win at Northampton.

Worthington is a big advocate of giving youth a chance, handing the likes of former on-loan Minstermen Clarke Carlisle and Josh Carson their respective breaks at club and international level as teenagers.

On the prospects for Dickenson and Atkinson in 2013/14, the City boss said: “Both of them are physical boys in their own right and the message to them is the same as it is for the rest of the squad. The ball is in their court.

“If they prove their fitness levels, then everybody will be playing for themselves in pre-season.”