TEENAGER Ryan Whitley is hoping to convince York City boss Steve Watson that he can be the club’s first-choice keeper next season.

The former Archbishop Holgate School pupil kept a clean sheet on his senior debut during Saturday’s 1-0 home win over Southport and is now expected to be given the chance to stay in goal for the rest of the campaign.

As an academy player with the Minstermen, Whitley was invited to England training camps and turned out as a trialist for Manchester City in a game when Phil Foden captained the Etihad youngsters and current Three Lions full international Jadon Sancho played his first match for the three-time Premier League champions.

A broken kneecap curtailed his progress at the age of 16 and, while Whitley still harbours ambitions of making an impact further up the football pyramid, the 6ft 7in net-minder, who is out of contract at the end of the season along with long-time first-choice Adam Bartlett, admits the lure of a new deal at sixth-tier City would be strong if it meant he was between the sticks for the club he has supported since boyhood during a season that is also set also to witness the move to the new Community Stadium.

On that prospect, the Hull Road-based 19-year-old said: “The new stadium looks wonderful and I’d definitely think about signing a new contract for next season because, at my age, I need to be playing men’s games and, if I can impress during the rest of the season, I might get the chance to be first choice next season.

"I obviously want to play at the highest level I can and for as long as I can, but you sometimes have to be patient for that to come about.”

Other than when former manager Sam Collins opted to go without a keeper on the bench, Whitley had been an unused substitute all season prior to last weekend, with Bartlett having racked up 70 consecutive senior appearances without being sent off, injured or dropped.

But, having finally received his chance in the first XI, Whitley is hoping he can now retain the gloves for the final four fixtures of the season.

He added: “There have been a couple of games when Barts has had niggles and I’ve been thinking, ‘Am I going to go on?’ But he’s not missed a game since being here and I’ve had to wait a long time, so I knew when my chance came I had to take it.

“I’ve had to be patient this season, but I’ve shown I can cope with first-team football now. I’m a young lad who might make mistakes, but I think I can deal with most of it.

“The manager said well done (after the Southport win) and told me I’d had quite a solid game, so I hope I can stay in now.”

Former season-ticket holder Whitley confessed that playing at Bootham Crescent for his home-town club felt “surreal”.

The first game he remembers watching as a fan was the 3-2 2009 FA Cup triumph over Crewe when late goals by Richard Pacquette and Richard Brodie secured a first round upset.

He received a 10.30am call ahead of Saturday’s game from goalkeeper coach Andy Collett, who relayed the good news, with Whitley enthusing: “It was surreal, and I was over the moon to make my debut after being a fan for so long.

“I used to sit in the Main Stand watching the club every week, so to finally put on the shirt myself and play felt like a great achievement.

"I was nervous as you would be making your debut anywhere, but they were good nerves and, apart from the first second of the second half when the ball skidded up and over me, I thought it was a solid back-five performance and they didn’t really look like scoring.”

Whitley also reasoned that starting in last month’s North Riding Senior Cup semi-final at Scarborough Athletic, which attracted a bumper crowd of 1,608 including a high number of hostile home supporters, proved good preparation for his first National League North contest.

The former Badger Hill Primary School pupil also kept a clean sheet in that match, before City were beaten 3-0 on penalties. Whitley said: “It was a good warm-up for my debut in terms of the physicality because, even though the under-19s is good football, you don’t get big blokes from the back coming up for corners, so I knew what to expect against Southport.

“Playing at Scarborough was also good for my mental strength as I got lots of abuse and comments from the fans at their end. You just have to block them out and concentrate on your own game.”

Whitley has also been grateful for the support of Bartlett, which has been reciprocated over the course of the campaign.

“Me and Barts are as close as anything and he has backed me 100 per cent, as I have done him,” Whitley explained. “That’s the same for both of us, regardless of who is 33 and who is 19.

“Then, when you’re in the team, you have to back yourself.”

Whitley played for Fulford Juniors from the age of nine to 14 and was 6ft tall by the age of 13.

After a trial with Leeds United, he was given six weeks to impress by the Minstermen five years ago and was reportedly not pulling up any trees before he shone in a session put on by Michael Ingham – the man who was his first goalkeeping hero as a Bootham Crescent regular.

On Ingham’s influence during those formative times, Whitley revealed: “Inghy coached me in the academy and we still keep in touch.

“I liked the way he put on sessions and he was somebody you looked up to because he’d played for the club and knew what it was all about.”