JON Parkin remains firmly in York City boss Steve Watson’s plans after making only his third substitute appearance since mid-November last weekend.

The 37-year-old veteran had not made the Minstermen’s matchday squad in the two previous games but has been hailed off the bench in three of Watson’s five matches in charge, despite not playing a minute of his predecessor Sam Collins’ final ten fixtures in charge.

Parkin last started a game on September 1 – the 1-1 draw at Hereford – but Watson regards him as potential game changer, who could tip results in the team’s favour as the team go all out for victories if they reach a position where National League North safety is all but ensured.

Extolling the former Championship campaigner’s merits, Watson said: “Technically and finishing wise, Jon is still up there and he’s obviously a handful.

“We went 4-4-2 and brought him on against Ashton to try and win the game and, at times, we might have to do that again this season as, if we get in a position where we’re not looking over our shoulder, then we’ll just need to go for wins rather than draws.”

Fifteenth-placed City are now ten points clear of the relegation zone and nine adrift of the play-off positions, with Watson arguing that the team must approach the next quintet of games, in which they face bottom-two Nuneaton and FC United of Manchester and no side inside the top six, looking for a healthy points’ haul.

Ahead of this weekend’s trip to Kidderminster, who sit ninth in the standings, Watson declared: “I’m looking at the next five fixtures and quite rightly thinking that, on our day and if we put all our quality together, we shouldn’t fear anybody. Kidderminster are a good footballing team, but there shouldn’t be any side that we get turned over by and we’ve got to get a good run going, even if that’s unbeaten games to get moving in the right direction.”

City have still failed to register back-to-back league wins since January 2018 and their longest unbeaten sequence in National League North this term stretches to just five games from mid-August to the start of September, but Watson is hoping that November’s 3-1 FA Trophy triumph at Kidderminster can have a bearing on this latest meeting.

“That should be a boost,” he pointed out. “As a footballer, if you have gone somewhere and done well, then that should give you no fear or surprise.

“They are coming off the back of a good win (a 4-1 victory over Chester) and we are coming off the back of a much better performance (the 2-0 defeat of Ashton). We’re still nowhere near where I want to be, but it was a step in the right direction, because we were getting up the pitch a lot more, winning corners and, importantly, kept a clean sheet.”

Having switched to 4-2-3-1 against Ashton, meanwhile, Watson isn’t considering another tactical tweak ahead of the trip to Worcestershire, insisting: “I never look at changing system because of how the opposition are lining up.

“I always look at what I think will give us the best chance of winning a game and I don’t think the system will change this weekend. I like to have two forwards on the pitch and 3-5-2 allows you to do that, but it’s got to be about what’s better for us in the short-term to get us back on track and moving up the table.”

Paddy McLaughlin is fit again for selection after the hamstring injury that caused him to miss the Ashton game, but Dan Parslow is still being assessed by doctors following the concussion he suffered in the game before against Hereford.

The Minstermen are also no closer to learning when midfielder Simon Heslop will be ready to return following a scan on his knee injury, with a chance that he could be ruled out for the rest of the season.

“It’s ongoing and we’re still assessing the severity of it, which will dictate whether he’s back in a couple of games’ time or out until the summer,” Watson revealed. “It’s a bit of a blow, because I know him well and saw him play against Macclesfield when I was there.

“He’s one of our better players and is a good influence on the dressing room.”