YORK City boss Sam Collins is hoping a close relationship with Premier League outfit Burnley can prove fruitful in the January transfer window.

Collins is currently one player short of the five loan signings that can feature in a matchday squad with Lewis Hawkins having returned to Hartlepool.

The futures of Alex Bray, Joe Davis, Kennedy Digie and Joe Ironside are also uncertain once their loan spells come to an end in the New Year and Collins is drawing up contingency plans with Burnley’s head of recruitment Nicky Law – the father of City utility man Josh Law – expressing an intention to assist City’s management team, having operated at the same level with Alfreton.

On the hunt for potential new recruits, Collins said: “I went to watch Nottingham Forest under-23s against Crewe under-23s this week and (assistant-manager) Stuart (Parnaby) went to Sheffield United under-23s against Burnley under-23s. But the problem we are finding is that Football League clubs are reluctant to let players go out until January, even though there are no restrictions on us taking them now, other than from Premier League clubs who you can’t do loan deals with until the window reopens.

“I think it would be a great experience for young players coming to play at this level. They’re not playing real football for the under-23s and their fixtures have finished for the year now anyway, so they could come to us and play four or five games before January.

“All I can do is keep asking the question and some want to help us, with Burnley being one. Josh Law’s dad Nicky has been great with us.

“We’ve watched Burnley’s under-23s three or four times and identified three or four players we really like. We might look at that situation in January, but the problem we have got, with the ones that are really talented, is there are now four divisions between us and Burnley.

“They might look at sending a 19-year-old to us, though, for their first loan, before looking at League One or Two for their next loan, because they can afford to let them progress over a period of time. Other teams won’t have any 18-year-olds who have played a senior game yet, like I did and Nathan Dyer is doing for us now.

“That can’t be good for their development and I don’t think the comfort zone benefits them.”

Collins went on to reveal that he has appointed Lee Abbott – the son of former Carlisle manager and Bradford City caretaker chief Greg Abbott – as the Minstermen’s new head of recruitment in an attempt to enhance the club’s scouting network.

“Lee’s young like us but he has been doing the same job for his dad for numerous years,” Collins pointed out. “He’s been looking at players for us and putting together a database, which can be here for years, because it’s the right thing to do for the football club, even if we’re not here.

“We’re all going out to games two or three nights a week between us and watching players at numerous clubs. We watched Chesterfield play Basford because they’ve got a player scoring lots of goals.

“There’s also a lad at Tadcaster Albion who keeps getting mentioned to us and there are plenty of players out there at numerous levels who we think can make us stronger.”

Collins is also hoping Simon Heslop can bolster his squad during the festive programme of fixtures, as he closes in on a return to duty following a minor knee operation.

Midfielder Heslop played the first nine games of Collins’ reign when the team lost just one match but, in his absence, seven of the last 11 fixtures have resulted in defeat.

On his chance of Christmas duty, Collins added: “He’s joined in training a couple of times but needs to get the strength back into his legs first. This weekend was too early for him to be involved, but we’re hoping he might be at some stage during the Christmas period.”