SIMON Heslop could be restored to the York City starting line-up for tomorrow’s New Year’s Day home clash against Darlington.

The 31-year-old midfielder made his first appearance since October 20 as an 80th-minute substitute during Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at Blyth Spartans.

In his absence from the first XI, due to minor knee surgery, the Minstermen have lost nine of their last 14 games and manager Sam Collins has confessed that the former Huntington School pupil could kick off the festive Bootham Crescent return fixture against a Darlington side who ran out 5-1 home winners on Boxing Day.

“Hessie wouldn’t have been involved (at Blyth) if he wasn’t fit and in contention to start a game again,” Collins explained. “We wanted to get him some minutes in the game and Adriano (Moke) went off with a bit of cramp, so it was good to get him back on the pitch.

“He got booked for a tackle almost straight away, but I don’t have a problem with that, because you need players who want to get around people and put their foot in and that’s what he wants to do. He enjoys that side of the game and we know he’s a really important, big player for us.”

Kallum Griffiths, meanwhile, has missed the last three matches due to a groin problem, but Collins is also hoping the former Spennymoor right back might be back for his first taste of the action since the 2-1 FA Trophy loss at Harrogate Town.

“We’ll have to see with Kallum,” the City chief added. “Hopefully, we can get him back because he also has the right mentality, work ethic and attitude that we need from as many players as possible.”

City’s new-look centre-back partnership of Hamza Bencherif and Kennedy Digie could be given another opportunity to prove their worth too, despite the 2-1 loss at Blyth, as Collins searches for stability in an area of the pitch that has seen seven different duos fielded in the last 13 matches.

“When you’re not getting a consistent run of results, it’s difficult because you’re trying to find a formula that works with a pairing,” Collins admitted. “We thought that the big physical presence of Hamza and Kennedy was the way to go at Blyth and I thought they did well generally and were fine.”

The City boss went on to challenge his team to exact revenge on Darlington with a performance that is every bit as emphatic as the one they were on the receiving end of at Blackwell Meadows.

“After what happened there, we need to go out and ram it straight back down their throats and do the same to them,” he declared.