MEDICAL experts questioned whether the broken jaw suffered by York City striker Chris Beardsley at Grays Athletic on Saturday was caused by an object after first assessing the damage.

Beardsley was taken to hospital following an off-the-ball clash with Grays defender Jamie Stuart during the first-half of his side's 2-0 Blue Square Premier victory.

City players later confirmed the injury was caused by Stuart's elbow, even though doctors and facial specialists felt the force of impact was more consistent with fractures involving something other than human contact.

Beardsley has since had three plates inserted into his jaw, which was broken in two places.

The one-hour operation took place on Sunday night in Derby after the 23-year-old striker travelled home with his team-mates having being transferred from his London hospital.

As he waited to be discharged yesterday, Beardsley told The Press: "The doctors asked me whether I was sure it was an arm or a fist that had caused the fracture as they thought, with the way it was, that it could have been an object.

"It felt like a fist at the time, but a few of the players that saw it said it was an elbow."

The 19th-minute flashpoint, spotted by one of the referee's assistants, led to Stuart being sent off and City being awarded a penalty, which Mark Robinson subsequently missed.

But Beardsley is relying on witness accounts for details of what happened.

He said: "I remember the ball being played towards the corner and their centre-back nipping round me and putting it out for a throw-in. We were then jogging into the box, a short throw-in was taken and I was down.

"Nothing was said before, during or afterwards and I thought it was a punch, an elbow or a forearm smash as he hit me on my blind side. I knew the jaw was broken straight away as my teeth were not aligned right. I had the operation on Sunday night and have got one big plate in the side I was hit and two little plates on the other side."

Beardsley declined to comment on whether he would take legal action against Stuart. Grays, as yet, have not released the match video but it is understood the clash was not caught on camera.

Ex-England Under-21 international Stuart did not apologise after the match and, to Beardsley's knowledge, had not enquired about the player's well-being before yesterday lunchtime.

On pressing charges, Beardsley added: "I can't comment at the minute because I haven't seen the video and I don't know whether there were any police in the ground."

Beardsley's diet will now be restricted to processed foods and liquids for a fortnight before he can start running.

The former Mansfield and Kidderminster forward should also begin ball work soon afterwards, but will be advised to avoid any form of contact sport for three months as his jaw heals.

Beardsley lost 12 months of his career to a broken leg two years ago while on Mansfield books and is trying to remain philosophical about his latest setback.

He said: "At least this isn't a season-ending injury and I can keep on top of my fitness until I get the go ahead."

The Derby-born attacker is frustrated, though, that his enforced absence will come after starting successive first-team games for the first time since his summer switch from Rushden.

He said: "It's been a bit stop-start, but I felt quite lively on Saturday. Their 'keeper tipped one round the post on 15 minutes and I felt that I was doing quite well in the air. The manager had asked me whether I wanted to go on loan to Tamworth and I understood his view because he wanted to get games into me, but I think I proved in pre-season that I can play in York's team and I just need games and consistency."

Beardsley admitted news of City's win at Grays came as a boost. "We badly needed three points and Grays is a difficult place to go."

Meanwhile, City will offer free transport to the club's away game with Woking on Saturday, October 13 for any fans whose travel plans have been scuppered by a change in kick-off time.

The game has been brought forward by two hours to 1pm to avoid a clash with England's Euro 2008 qualifying clash against Estonia. But any supporters who have made prior travel bookings that will not get them to the fixture for the revised time will be offered a free place on City's supporters' coach.

Places can be reserved by presenting travel documents to the ticket office staff by October 8.

* York City beat Whitley Bay 4-0 in an FA Youth Cup 1st round qualifying tie at KitKat Crescent last night. Adam Boyes scored two goals in the first half while Joe Knowlson and Liam Shepherd added to City's tally after the break.