STEVE WATSON believes that the signings of Michael Duckworth and Kieran Kennedy have filled the final pieces in his “defensive jigsaw”.

Duckworth, who returns to York from FC Halifax Town where he was a first-team regular for the National League promotion-chasers, is expected to take the spot of the departed Kallum Griffiths at right wing back.

And Kennedy is expected to play alongside Duckworth at right centre back after Joe Tait was released by City last month.

York now have eight defenders in their squad and manager Watson expressed his delight at securing new recruits Duckworth and Kennedy.

On Kennedy, he said: “We coached him at Macclesfield, when John (Askey) went on to win the National League and I went to Gateshead.

“John then took him to Shrewsbury and then to Port Vale, where has unlucky with injuries, and he played a little bit at Wrexham last year.

“He came up through (the) Man City (academy), he’s a good age and the type of centre half that I like.

“He’s a little bit like what Sean (Newton) will be on the other side, mobile and comfortable carrying the ball, not scared to go out and defend into the channels if needed to, because we want our wing backs to be high up the pitch.

“He fits a lot of the criteria of what I wanted. Obviously, having worked with him before, I know what type of lad he is and I know that he’s at an age where he wants to progress again now.

“He’s taken a step back levels-wise, but he knows what this club is capable of doing now.

“That’s something that we’ve sold to the lad and the other players - it’s a step back to then really try and shoot themselves forward again.”

Kennedy will have competition with Josh King for a starting place though.

“They’ll both have the same chance in pre-season,” Watson added. “I feel like now, he’s probably the last piece of the defensive jigsaw.

“I think I’ve also got some really good options with Kieran and Michael to play in a number of positions.

“Robbie Tinkler is a very accomplished midfielder, a very good holder and a very good right-back as well.

“I’ve brought him in originally to be a sweeper, that’s where he had his best games for me (at Gateshead).

“Scotty Barrow can play left-sided centre half, Newts can play left-back. Spratty (Harry Spratt) can play on the left too.

“I’ve got good options all over the back five now and it’s exactly who I wanted.”

Raised in York, Duckworth returns to the club having been let go by the Minstermen in 2010 aged 18 after an impressive 2019-20 with Halifax.

“He’s a really talented right-back; very good on the ball, very good with both feet, can chip in with goals – and a local lad,” continued the boss.

“I think it’s important we have a decent core of local lads. I know from my experience up in Newcastle that fans can empathise with lads from the same area. I think that’s a good signing for a number of reasons.”

Earlier this week, City also secured the signing of forward Jack Redshaw, also from Halifax.

“It was quite tough to get that one over the line, there was a lot of interest in him,” said Watson. “We got him down here and he saw the training ground and the new stadium.

“We told him our plans and thankfully he chose us and we’re delighted.

“I think it’s a really good coup for the club. I’ve seen him play for a number of teams. He’s scored goals for Morecambe and Salford and we played against him (for Halifax) in a behind closed doors game and he was a stand-out then.

“He’s got a great work ethic about him and he’s fitting into what we’re trying to do here positionally as well.”