FORMER York City left-back Paddy Atkinson has told current boss Billy McEwan not to fear throwing new signing Richard Brodie straight into the first team.

Brodie, 19, missed out on a chance to stake his claims for Saturday's Conference trip to Altrincham when Tuesday night's reserve game at home to Sheffield United was frozen off.

He was also suspended for last weekend's 2-0 home defeat against Tamworth after moving from Northern League outfit Newcastle Benfield before the transfer window closed.

But Atkinson, who has monitored Brodie's progress this season as his coach at Benfield, feels the powerful teenager will be ready if required.

He said: "He's a handful for 19 as one of York's defenders (Darren Craddock) will know after having to go to hospital after our FA Cup tie back in October. He's done very well for us and scored 15 or 16 goals this season.

"I've said to Billy don't be afraid to put him in because he's been playing against men all season'. Experienced pros who have come out of the game have been kicking him and winding him up but, even though he still looks young in the face, he can give it and take it.

"He's got stitches in his lip because people can't cope with him. Somebody nutted him this season because he was getting the better of the lad but he did not stay down or complain. He's a tough lad from the North-East."

Atkinson, who also recommended former Queen of the South team-mate Steve Bowey to the Minstermen last summer, is in no doubt that Brodie can cut it at Conference level if not higher.

He has likened the former apprentice joiner to ex-Bolton and Cardiff forward Tony Philliskirk, who began his career in Sheffield United's youth team alongside Atkinson and under the tutelage of then Bramall Lane boss McEwan.

Philliskirk went on to score 126 goals during a 15-year career and Atkinson added: "Richard's got what it takes to be successful at York - without a doubt.

"He's only 19 and he's 6ft 3in so he will end up about 6ft 4in at 21 and it does not matter what level you play everyone wants a big centre-forward like Peter Crouch. Even if it does not work out for him at a higher level he can make it as a Conference player.

"He's also quick and doesn't just hold the ball up. He can run the channels as well.

"He's willing to learn and is a very likeable lad who takes everything on board that you tell him.

"Steve Bowey has already told me that all the lads love him and that he's impressed in training. He's worked hard on his fitness and has been rewarded with a professional contract."

Brodie first came to Atkinson's attention when Benfield were drawn against Northern League second division side Whickham last season and responded forcibly to intimidating tactics.

He said: "I went to watch them beforehand and he stood out a mile. We took him out in the first five minutes but he just kept coming back for more."

Brodie has since helped fire Benfield to eighth place in the first division after switching clubs.

He will be missed by the Sam Smith's Park side although Atkinson, who played for City between 1995 and 1998, believes there are other players on the books ready to step up in grade.

"Our sweeper Phil Lumsden has played for Darlington reserves recently," Atkinson said.

"He's 21 and was at West Ham with Michael Carrick and Clayton Donaldson could not beat him for pace during the FA Cup game."