MACAULAY Langstaff is in contention for a York City starting place after returning from his loan spell at Bradford Park Avenue.

The 22-year-old forward netted once in five outings, including four starts, during a month-long stint in West Yorkshire.

Langstaff also saw two goals disallowed for offside during a 2-2 draw with Curzon Ashton and left fifth-placed Bradford having helped the team take 11 points from a possible 15.

The former Billingham Synthonia striker, who worked with Bootham Crescent chief Steve Watson at Gateshead last season, only made one substitute appearance for City under his old boss before being farmed out to the Horsfall Stadium.

But, with his parent club having failed to net in their last two matches – against Scarborough in the North Riding Senior Cup and National League North foes Altrincham – Langstaff’s selection prospects have now been enhanced.

Jake Wright’s loan move to Boston United have also seen Langstaff, who has hit the target five times in 28 games for the Minstermen, move up the pecking order and, ahead of this weekend’s trip to FC United of Manchester, Watson said: “We will more than likely be involving him this weekend.

“He looks sharp and we’ve got what we hoped for from his loan spell, because he’s had match minutes, which we couldn’t guarantee him. He also scored a goal and had a couple ruled out for offside, which means he is trying to break lines and get in the right places, so it could work out well for us.

“If he comes back and gets in the team, then great. Equally, if we decide that he won’t be in and around the squad again, Bradford want to keep him, so we could assess that next week, although we need as many attacking options as possible if we are going to win game after game like we need to do.”

Watson subsequently suggested that he is considering changes to the attacking positions in his 4-3-3 formation, adding: “I feel the system is something we’ve grown comfortable with and, while we might work in pre-season on the formation I wanted to go with when I first came here, this system has improved us, so we’ll be going the same way at FC United although I don’t know whether it will be the same players.

“We’ve gone two games with very few shots on goal and might have to mix it up a bit because, ultimately, draws are no good to us and we need to win games.”

Watson went on to disclose that he is still considering one further addition to his squad before next Thursday’s transfer deadline, with two targets in mind.

“We’ve only got the facility to bring one more player in on loan and, while you get all sorts of people thrown at you at this stage of the season, when you do your homework, they’re often not what you want,” the ex-Everton defender reasoned. “We’ve got a couple that we feel would be the right type and are waiting to hear back from them.

“One might drop for us but, if not, we’ve got Macca (Langstaff) back now and, maybe, Jake (Wright) in three weeks’ time.”

Watson also revealed that he will not be discussing the situations of any out-of-contract players before the end of this season.

The current terms of senior professionals Adam Bartlett, Hamza Bencherif, Alex Harris, Simon Heslop, Alex Kempster, Langstaff, Josh Law, Adriano Moke, Jon Parkin and Dan Parslow are all due to expire this summer, as will the loan agreements with Tom Bradbury, Scott Burgess, Paddy McLaughlin and David Mirfin, but those 14 players will not have their Bootham Crescent futures determined until the end of April at the earliest, with Watson declaring: “I will have to go right to the end of the season in terms of thinking about contracts because, having come in after Christmas, I need the maximum time possible to assess them all.

“I know that’s not ideal as a player, but it happens everywhere all the time and I had the same when I was Everton and I was one of six players sat down the Monday after the season had ended waiting to see if David Moyes would be offering us a new deal.”

Long-term casualties Simon Heslop (knee) and Dan Parslow (head injury) are the only two absentees on Saturday, with Watson looking for improvements in the final third following last weekend’s 1-0 home defeat to Altrincham.

“We found Altrincham difficult to break down and you then ask whether they were that good defensively or did we just not ask enough questions,” Watson ventured. “I personally think it was the latter, so we’ve been working on better movement and being less predictable.

“We’ve gone two games without a goal against Scarborough and Altrincham and, while we’re not conceding many, so that side of things is looking up, we’ve got to start creating a bit more. We need to be better with our unselfish runs off the ball to create space and we’ve also got to get our heads to more balls from free kicks outside of the box, so those are the types of things we’ve been working on this week.”

Third-bottom FC United have only won one of their last 18 home games, while the Minstermen have rattled off a hat-trick of consecutive victories on the road and, on his team’s next test, Watson said: “They had a good win last weekend at Telford and have got good attacking options.

“They’ve also got two strong centre-halves who are very good aerially, so we’ll need to move them around and get in behind them. It’s a huge game for them at home and they don’t have the best of records at their ground this season, whereas going away has been as productive for us as playing at home during the last few weeks.”

City go into the game nine points adrift of a play-off place with eight games left to play, but Watson is still refusing to rule out snatching a top-seven spot.

“We’ve probably got to win seven games, which is going to be tough, but it’s not impossible,” he insisted.