IT is likely there will be "a couple" played out of position against Southport, York City manager Steve Watson has said ahead of the sides' league meeting on Saturday.

Centre-back absences struck City again last week against Whitby Town, with Josh King missing through illness while Sam Fielding was still recovering from an ankle injury he sustained against Darlington.

In their stead, and that of club captain Sean Newton, midfielder Akil Wright dropped back to partner Matty Brown at the heart of defence.

Meanwhile, on the left of the four-man back line was Paddy McLaughlin, covering for Scott Barrow and his potential replacement Lewis Cunningham.

Barrow and Newton will certainly not feature at the LNER Community Stadium on Saturday (3pm), while other players could miss the National League North clash with illness.

"We've had a very interesting week with ins and outs, people training and not training, and people getting tested for Covid," Watson explained.

"We'll have to leave it right till tomorrow before we've got the best idea of what we're going to do.

"A couple have been ill but luckily not positive. Kingy was ill last week so whether it's a similar type of thing or a bug going around, it's not positive, which is good.

"You've still go Aki playing centre-half and Paddy playing left-back and those aren't things that are going to change quickly, although Sam did train today. It's just a question of whether we can put him straight back in.

"Though I thought Aki looked fantastic there. You've got to look at combatting what they do as well. Aki's a big, powerful, quick lad.

"Although we've got a lot of players out, we've still got options and whatever happens, we'll end up with a couple out of what you'd call their favoured positions."

Where York have not been lacking is in the front line, where four fully fit strikers have been jostling for position.

Though veteran Clayton Donaldson has shouldered much of the goalscoring responsibility of late, others have pitched in with a good work-rate and chances created.

This season, City fans have become accustomed to seeing a front three, most often featuring Donaldson, Kurt Willoughby and Mark Beck.

A tactical tweak to try to keep City high up the field of play, that the formation pushes Willoughby out to the left, where his poacher's instinct is somewhat neutralised, has been a criticism of late.

"I'd say the strikers certainly would probably all relish playing as a two," Watson said.

"But you've got to keep the ones in that are doing well and scoring, and that simplifies their task as well - get in the team, score goals, and you stay there.

"We'll look at who we've got and try to put the best side out we can for Saturday."

Explaining the formation, he continued: "We got the three strikers in pre-season then we had the opportunity to bring Mark in and that's something you can't turn down. He adds a bit of a different dimension for us.

"The pre-season was all geared towards 4-4-2 and two central strikers but when we started looking like we were getting pegged back in that system and the two wide men weren't as advanced, we went to three up front because it's a better way of keeping us up the pitch.

"We've got four fully fit strikers so that's the area where you can make changes, not because of injuries but to freshen it or because of who's trained really well. I'm a big believer in how well you train and that's one of the reasons I put (Jason Gilchrist) in. I'll pick the side I think is most ready."