CENTRE-BACK Hamza Bencherif could be used as an emergency striker by York City if the team need to grab a late winning goal during the run-in to the end of the season.

After taking 83 games and more than two years to open his account for City, the 6ft 3in defender has netted three times in his last seven outings and also saw a shot saved before Alex Kempster got the only goal in last weekend’s 1-0 win at Leamington.

The 31-year-old Frenchman could return to substitute duty for tomorrow’s home match against fellow play-off hopefuls Altrincham with David Mirfin available again after the healing of his facial wound that required 31 stitches.

But, going forward, Bencherif might not just be on the bench for defensive cover with City chief Steve Watson reasoning: “Every game will be like a cup tie that we need to win on the day from now on, so we have to be brave in our decisions.

“Parky (Jon Parkin) would obviously go on before Hamza, but I would not think twice about throwing him up there if there are a few minutes left and we need to put balls into the box to get the points. I hope it doesn’t come to that and we can win games the way we want to play, but it’s certainly an option.

“I got thrown up there a few times myself for Newcastle and a couple of other clubs and, sometimes, it gives you a lift and a buzz as a player. It’s something different and something unknown for the opposition as well.”

City are currently a couple of strikers light following loan moves for Jake Wright and Macaulay Langstaff.

But Watson has no regrets about lending the pair to play-off rivals Boston United and Bradford Park Avenue, even if Langstaff scored a winning goal for the latter in midweek.

“I don’t look at it as the wrong thing to do, because we just have to concentrate on beating the teams ahead of us and both players won’t play against us,” the Minstermen chief insisted. “Maybe two or three more of our players could have gone out to clubs too, but that didn’t work out or the lads didn’t want to.

“If players aren’t in the squad of 16, I’d rather them get some game time than be sitting in the stands, then they can come back and help us out. The system we are playing only lends itself to one striker and we have got two in Jordan (Burrow) and Jon (Parkin) who can play as target-men and focal points. We’ve also got Alex Kempster, Wes York and Alex Harris doing well on either side and we’re winning games.”

Watson went on to admit that he perhaps should have made more changes to his side than the six he decided upon for Tuesday’s North Riding Cup penalty shoot-out defeat at Scarborough, saying: “I wanted to have a look at people over 90 minutes but we also felt it was right to put out a strong side because a lot of our fans were going to be there.

“In hindsight, we might have been better resting the five players who had 90 minutes on Saturday, especially on a 3G pitch where you can get a few niggles, but we wanted to take the competition seriously, win the game and win the cup.”