YORK City caretaker boss Sam Collins has admitted he is carefully managing Jon Parkin’s workload to avoid the veteran striker breaking down during the season again.

Parkin, 36, netted 25 times last term in 30 starts before a long-standing knee problem flared up and meant that he missed all but the final match of City’s eight-game run-in to the end of the campaign.

The Minstermen subsequently took five points from a possible 24 and alarmingly fell out of play-off contention.

This season, Parkin has only started a third of the Minstermen’s first nine fixtures, but the side are still to score a goal in 2018/19 without him being on the pitch.

Under Collins, meanwhile, the ex-Stoke and Hull forward is yet to start consecutive matches, with the temporary boss adding: “I understand the team hasn’t scored without Jon being on the pitch this season and he’s got goals throughout his career. When he came on for us (at half-time during Saturday’s 3-0 home defeat to Kidderminster), he had some good moments as you’d expect, but one of the things we are trying to do a little bit is to protect Jon.

“He’s not getting any younger and we’re trying to manage the situation with him. Ideally, if he was a couple of years younger, you’d play him in every game and for 90 minutes, but we have to think about the bigger picture, because we’ve got to get him through the season and we don’t want to kill him.”

With Parkin starting on the bench, Collins opted for a youthful front three of Jake Wright, Macaulay Langstaff and Fergus McAughtrie against the Harriers, but admitted that decision might require a rethink as the hosts failed to muster a first-half on-target effort.

“We wanted to get our three quick forward players in one-on-one situations against their centre-halves,” Collins reasoned. “But Kidderminster set little traps to stop us playing out and we went a bit direct at times, which was difficult for the players up there when there was no big presence.

“Everything’s easier in hindsight, but we decided to go that way as we thought it would get us a good result. Now, we’ve got to look at it again and think about what things we can do a bit better.”

McAughtrie – the son of former City defender Dave – was replaced 45 minutes into his home debut, but Collins has told the teenage winger to keep his spirits up, saying: “He never really got into the game and that can happen.

“We didn’t get the ball up to him as we did against Brackley, who are a different type of team. Sometimes, your forward players can get isolated when they don’t see a lot of the ball, but he’s still a young kid who has done great for us so far and I told him at half-time not to be disappointed because he’d been substituted, because we just had to make changes to get back into the game and he was fine with that.”

Sean Newton, meanwhile, made his first appearance following five games out with medial ligament damage as McAughtrie’s replacement.

The former Wrexham utility man lined up in midfield, having started this campaign at left-back, with Collins still deciding where he might best fit into the current 4-3-3 formation.

“He’s probably a victim of his own versatility and it’s quite tough for him because, maybe, he sees himself playing in a particular position,” Collins pointed out. “He’s comfortable on the ball and, with us wanting to control possession in midfield, I thought playing there would suit him but, if we do change things and think about something else, we’ll look at that.

“The main thing is he’s back fit. He’s been out for a few weeks, so we’ve got to get him up to speed.

“Ideally, we didn’t want to use him as early as we did - we’d have preferred to be managing the game and then brought him on - but we wanted to see if his left-foot deliveries could get us back in the match. The third goal killed us though.”