YORK City manager Steve Watson is ready to take the shackles off midfielder Paddy McLaughlin next season.

The former Newcastle United reserve has never got near the 13-goal haul he managed in his first season as a professional during the Minstermen's double-Wembley winning campaign of 2011/12 when he turned 21.

McLaughlin's best returns since have been the six-goal contributions he managed twice with Gateshead.

But, with the Larne-born, 28-year-old having netted three times in the final six fixtures of last term and claimed a goal or an assist in all but one of those matches, Watson is convinced that McLaughlin can carry that attacking form into 2019/20 after making his loan move from Hartlepool permanent by securing his services for another two years.

"Previous managers have seen Paddy as a holding midfielder, but I feel he can be more than that," Watson reasoned.

The mid-table Minstermen ended 2018/19 with National League North's 12th-best, goals-for record and 17th-highest, goals-against column.

But Watson believes a big improvement is needed at the top end of the pitch with the onus on all departments of the team to weigh in.

Jordan Burrow was the club's leading league marksman last season on 13 goals, with fellow forward Macaulay Langstaff (ten) the only other player to break into double figures.

Defender Sean Newton was next on the list with six, while McLaughlin's three goals from midfield was a tally that could only be matched by Adriano Moke.

Watson has subsequently strengthened his options in that area by making Kieran Green his first new summer signing after the 21-year-old plundered seven goals for play-off qualifiers Blyth Spartans last term.

And, on the need for a more clinical campaign, Watson said: "There were so many games last season when we failed to kill teams off.

"People weren’t taking chances up top, the midfielders weren’t converting enough opportunities and there weren’t enough goals from set-pieces either. It also meant we ended up with a big, negative goal difference and I’m not used to that."