YORK City boss Steve Watson has admitted attempts to bring new faces to Bootham Crescent have been thwarted by the impending Christmas fixture period.

He and assistant Micky Cummins have been on the look-out for recruits, he says, but clubs are unwilling to reduce their own numbers ahead of a busy spell.

Despite the disappointment of striker Dan Maguire having missed so many matches since his summer arrival - and Watson saying York might have benefited from having him for the past few games - the manager also insisted there is no need for a knee-jerk reaction.

Without Maguire, York have ridden their misfortune and kept themselves very much in the hunt at the top of National League North, and Watson is optimistic for the latter half of the season.

City's forward line could still receive a fresh injection, with young striker Kyle McFarlane back in contention for the matchday squad after returning from his loan at Stratford Town.

Watson said: "We've done a lot of looking and research this week. Me and Micky have been to a lot of under-23 games recently.

"It's difficult because clubs want their squads as full as possible over the Christmas spell, so everybody we've enquired about, the answer's been 'wait till we get Christmas out of the way'.

"But also you're bringing under-23s in and in my experience, in this league and the league above, it is a gamble. It doesn't matter how many goals they score in training or in under-23 games, it is very, very different. You want to do as much research and have as much info as you can on them.

"It just hasn't worked out over the last couple of weeks. In all honesty, we would have brought somebody in but it's just not worked out that way."

Maguire has had little luck with injury since the season began. A knock to his knee he picked up in pre-season caught up with by the second game of term and was out for 14 games. He featured in the FA Cup win over Stockport County, scored the winner at Chester and played almost an hour against Kidderminster before hobbling off against Altrincham after a suspected knee to the back.

Maguire has been given a lubricating injection but is a doubt for Darlington on Saturday.

Watson said: "You put a squad together in the summer, you put together a plan, you change the system, and the first thing you try to do is be solid, be tough, be hard to beat, be organised, and we've achieved that.

"Then you go and sign a striker a lot of teams in this league and the league above were trying to get. We got him and everybody was delighted with that but it's not worked out the way we'd hoped for Dan himself, mainly, but for us as a club.

"He's going to be a big part of the second half of the season - of that I'm sure - but in the last six or seven games, we could have really done with him, just for something different.

"But it wasn't to be and we can't do anything about that, we can't complain about it.

"We're not going to do a knee-jerk reaction and bring in three or four players when we've been doing really well.

"It is difficult, of course it is. It's sort of like taking (Adam) Marriott's goals away from King's Lynn or (Lindokuhle) Ndlovu's goals away from Brackley or (Akwasi) Asante's goals away from Chester. We've been without our main striker for all but two league games so we've been desperately unlucky, but that's football.

"We've had a really unlucky spell with injuries and we hope the second half of the season we can avoid all that.

"You don't wish injuries on anybody but other teams might have a spell where they're struggling to find the net.

"We've got to press on from now until the end of the season and if we can get as many points in the second half of the season as we did in the first half, I think we'll be there or thereabouts."

Of McFarlane - who scored four goals in six appearances for Stratford - Watson added: "With Dan not being fit, if Kyle is available and involved this weekend, he gets his chance, he has to take it.

"As a lot of lads do. It's a good opportunity to stake a claim over these next three, four games."