YORK City sporting director Dave Penney has given the thumbs-up to manager Steve Watson’s recruitment thus far ahead of next season.

In the build-up to what he will hope is his first full conventional campaign in charge of the Minstermen, Watson has secured the services of 11 of last season’s players and brought in one-time City loanee striker Kurt Willoughby on a permanent deal.

Unlike with previous York managers Penney has worked with, he revealed, recruitment and playing budget management are entirely Watson’s remit.

Penney arrived at York as mentor to manager Martin Gray in 2017, when he took a more hands-on approach to on-field matters. It was a similar case with Watson’s predecessor Sam Collins. With both, he ran the budget and sorted contracts out, he explained, while he now assumes more the role of general manager at the club. 

Watson prefers to manage his own playing budget - which Penney apportions to him from a wider budget - as well as recruitment, coaching and selecting the matchday squad. 

With Willoughby now the only out-and-out striker in the squad, attackers are high on the priorities list for Watson, who is targeting a squad size of around 20 players.

“We trust him, we trust what he’s doing,” Penney commented. “I feel he’s got a good group of players at the moment. I know he’s working hard to sign new players.

“If you look at the demographic of the squad, it’s at the front which ultimately makes the difference scoring goals and I know Steve’s working very hard to get some strikers on board.

“I think Steve’s retained a good core of senior players, like Sean Newton, Browny (Matty Brown), Scotty Barrow, Pete Jameson, Akil (Wright), Olly Dyson, Paddy (McLaughlin).

“And obviously Steve’s adding to it.

“What we’ve got to bear in mind is it’s still really early. The National League’s still playing. Players have just started being released.

“There will be plenty of players around in the summer.

“I think we’ve got a good group, a strong group, and it’s how we add.”

Wakefield-born Penney's playing career began at Pontefract Collieries before he moved into the league with Derby County in 1985, then Oxford United in 1989.

In 1994, Penney joined Swansea City following a loan spell there three years previously, and in 1997, he went straight to Welsh rivals Cardiff City.

He finished his playing career in 2002 at Doncaster Rovers, whom he managed afterwards until 2006, when he went to manage at Darlington alongside assistant Martin Gray.

At the behest of administrators, he left the financially-challenged Quakers in 2009 and went to Oldham Athletic, where he was joined by Gray in the summer.

There followed an ill-fated two-month stint in charge of Bristol Rovers before assistantships at Southend United and Guiseley, whom he left in the summer of 2017.

On his philosophy for recruit-ment, Penney commented: “I was always told to hire for attitude over ability every time because you’ll always get a 10-out-of-10 attitude week in, week out.

“Ability might be a three or a four one week and a 10 another.

“My mantra was always attitude over ability because that’s what I was," he smiled.

“And the supporters like that, especially Yorkshire supporters.

“If they can see people giving their all, they can live with it.

“Good games, bad games - at least they’ve given their best.

“Week in, week out, they’ve put their body on the line and tried their best, and that’s all you can ever ask, in my opinion.”