MANAGER Sam Collins has told every York City player they have a “real fight on their hands” to get in the team following the arrival of on-loan Kidderminster pair Joe Ironside and Kennedy Digie.

Ex-Sheffield United striker Ironside rattled in 23 goals for Kiddy last term, having hit the target 24 times the previous campaign for the Aggborough outfit and National League North rivals Nuneaton.

Digie, 21, has been on the Harriers’ books for four years and loaned out previously to Hednesford Town, Stourbridge and Worcester City.

Both players have been limited to bench duty at Kidderminster in recent weeks, but Collins believes their additions to his squad until January initially, along with those of this month’s fellow loan recruits Lewis Hawkins, Joe Davis and Alex Bray, means the contest for first XI spots has intensified.

He said: “There are quite a few players who need to up their games, because we’ve brought in four really talented players either side of the weekend and everyone now has a real fight on their hands to get in the team and stay in the team. I don’t want people being comfortable and, if we are to have a team that fights and scraps, I want to see that in training as well.

“All the lads we’ve brought in are 25 and under and, although you need that bit of experience, it has to be the right type alongside younger players who are desperate to do well. Joe scored 23 goals last season and I feel lucky, excited and a little shocked to have him and Kennedy, who is a young, strong defender with real presence.

“They are here for two months and I’m hoping they can do well and, then, we’ll sit down and have a chat about their futures in January.”

Ironside, 25, is expected to start alongside Jordan Burrow in tomorrow night’s home clash against Chester, with Collins believing that the two 6t-plus forwards can forge a compatible partnership.

“I don’t think any team would like to come up against those two,” Collins declared. “I think Jordan represents what I am about as a manager.

“He’s not full of bravado or a loudmouth around the place and just goes about his job and gives you everything he’s got.”

City will be without Joe Tait as he serves the second game of a three-match ban, while Josh Law is “50-50” after the foot injury he sustained during Saturday’s 2-1 FA Cup defeat at Swindon and Dan Parslow is sidelined due to medial knee ligament damage.

Visitors Chester will go top of the table if they take maximum points and Collins has warned his team that their performance must not dip below the level set at the weekend.

“I know their managers from their days at Salford and they always get their teams to have a right go by working their socks off so, if we don’t match our standards on Saturday, we will get found out,” the City chief pointed out.

Collins also wants to emulate the positive connection between fans and players witnessed in Wiltshire on home soil, adding: “I want to create that bond between players and fans and that will happen if the players go about their games in the same way as they did at Swindon.

“We have got some decent footballers but, if we are going to get anywhere this season, we need that mentality of giving everything we have got for every minute. I watched the Manchester derby on Sunday and Manchester City do that at the very highest level.

“David Silva and Bernardo Silva were playing against three 6ft monsters, but never gave them a kick and that’s what football fans relate to before anything else.”

With the recent incomings, Collins went on to suggest that more players could follow midfielder Russ Penn out of Bootham Crescent in coming weeks.

“There has been quite a bit of interest and a few phone calls for players here,” the City boss revealed. “We have some who are now two injuries away from getting in the team and that’s too many at any club.

“Our squad is too big and that presents problems financially too, so I’d rather have 22 players or less and, then, we can push through the likes of Reiss Harrison who was on the bench at Swindon and a couple more youngsters too, because the four kids who played in the County Cup against Northallerton did exceptionally well.”

City have been drawn away at Ironside and Digie’s parent club Kidderminster, meanwhile, in the third qualifying round of the FA Trophy.

The tie will be played at Aggborough on Saturday, November 24 and both players have been refused permission to feature for the visitors.

Commenting on the draw, Collins said: “It’s a tough game against a good team with good players and we’ll look forward to it when it comes around but, firstly, we’ve got to knuckle down and get some good league results.”