YORK City boss Sam Collins has given his players Christmas Day off.

The Minstermen will travel to National League North neighbours Darlington on Boxing Day following yesterday’s 2-1 home victory over Brackley, with Collins deciding not to train the day before.

He is hoping the gesture will then get the best out of his team at Blackwell Meadows, pointing out: “I don’t believe in getting players in on Christmas Day. I experienced it in so many different ways as player, like going in at 4pm but I didn’t like it and, generally, I don’t think you get much out of doing that.

“It’s difficult because you’re always thinking about the game and you would never usually not train the day before a game but, hopefully, we get a good reaction from the players in terms of being fair to them and letting them be with their family and friends. They’ve got to be sensible with what they eat, and we don’t want anybody drinking alcohol, as we have to trust them to be professional and to do the right things and, in the back of their minds, they’ve got to be thinking about the game as well.”

Collins added that Kallum Griffiths, Joe Davis and Kennedy Digie, who were all left out if the starting XI against Brackley with minor ailments, should be back in contention at Darlington, but he admitted that will give him food for thought in terms of his selection plans following the performances of those he recalled to the team.

The City chief was pleased with Dan Parslow’s first start of the season, with Adriano Moke also scoring the first goal on his return, while Joe Tait and Joe Ironside came back into the side.

“With so many games close together, I don’t want to push anybody who isn’t 100 per cent and lose them for a longer period, which might have been the case with Kallum,” Collins explained. “That was the same with Kennedy and Joe (Davis) has been really stiff as well.

“I don’t want to take risks with players, because that would be bad management and unprofessional. Luckily, we have a big squad, so we utilised it.

“We should have three or four players back for Boxing Day and I’ll have a headache then. I have asked a lot of questions of the players in recent weeks, but I think there’s an honesty generally right throughout the group and I was delighted with the players that came into the team at short notice.

“We have taken a lot of flak and, to be honest, a lot of it has been deserved, but they’ve shown a lot of character to stick at it.”

Collins went on to challenge first-half marksman Moke to add goals to his game, with his spectacular 16th-minute effort only the seventh he has managed in 120 appearances for the Minstermen over two separate spells.

“We had a chat with Adriano last week,” the City boss revealed. “He was left out at Harrogate and I won’t speak about the reasons why, but he’s a genuinely honest lad with a great attitude.

“He gets up and down the pitch, but the one thing you can level against him is he doesn’t score enough goals. He answered that, though, with a really good goal and I’m delighted for him.

“It’s the one thing missing in his game and, if he had that, I believe he could play at a lot higher level than this, because he’s got great ability and good energy so, if we can add goals to his game between now and the end of the season, it will be good for him and us.”

Collins reasoned, meanwhile, that the display against Brackley could have been better, but singled out several individuals for praise, saying: “We played well in little spells but were a bit wasteful with the ball in stupid areas at times.

“I thought young Nathan (Dyer) was outstanding and Dan Parslow was excellent, having been patient waiting for his chance. Jordan Burrow also scored again, so there were lots of positives, as well as things we can be better at.”

Burrow scored the winning goal from the penalty spot on 49 minutes after an unchallenged Gareth Dean had levelled for the visitors with a free header from Shane Byrne’s corner.

Offering his views on the equaliser, Collins admitted: “I was disappointed with it and Joe (Tait) held his hands up at half-time, as it was his man who scored it. It was an individual error and we need to keep working to get better at that.

“Joe made the mistake, but he did really well in the second half and reacted in the right way.”