IT is “all hands to the pump” at York City at the minute, says Steve Watson, as he continues to guide his side through an injury crisis.

City started the National League North season without left-back Scott Barrow, and matters have only got worse from there, with the back line hit particularly hard.

The Minstermen host Blyth Spartans on Saturday (3pm) also missing midfielder Michael Woods, striker Jason Gilchrist and right-back Michael Duckworth, whose torn hamstring is set to keep him out for four to six weeks.

Captain and centre-back Sean Newton, meanwhile, continues to recover from a knee injury but may not be ready for a full return yet after two months out.

Watson is likely to look again to at least two of midfield quartet Paddy McLaughlin, Akil Wright, Olly Dyson and Sam Fielding, all of whom have impressed the manager when stepping into the back line.

Ordinarily deployed as a sterling central-midfield disruptor, Wright partnered Matty Brown at centre-back during Tuesday’s 2-1 defeat at Boston United, where he did a good job of keeping ex-City striker Jordan Burrow quiet.

“Me and Micky were speaking about it after the game and we’d love to see Aki back in midfield breaking play up but, at the moment, it’s not an option. It is all hands to the pump at the moment,” Watson said. “It’s a difficult time but we have to get through it.

“Nobody’s under any illusions how hard this league is and we’ve had plenty go against us this season but we’re still there or thereabouts, we’re still at the right end of the table, we’re not a million miles away from where we need to be. We’re probably two wins away from being right in the mix.

“That’s the way we’ve got to think.”

During his playing days, right-back Watson was no stranger to being deployed in different positions.

He earned a reputation as a key all-round player while at Newcastle United with Kevin Keegan, and even went on to play as a striker while at Everton under the late Walter Smith.

“It’s all about having football intelligence,” he said of adapting to different positions.

“Olly Dyson has done really well at right-back and, as much as we’d prefer him further forward, the more I look at him and think maybe he is the one that’s adapted best to the change in position.

“Paddy’s done well. He’s a senior head. I didn’t think he’d struggle to play at left-back.

“Akil’s surprised me but you speak to him every day and you see he’s an intelligent lad who’s got a lot of football intelligence.

“I think Olly, Aki, Paddy, Sam the other night - although it’s not their positions, I don’t think they’ve found it that hard. Would we prefer them in their normal positions? Of course we would.

“But Saturday, whoever plays right-back, left-back and centre-half, it won’t be their first time. They’re learning on the job, I suppose.”

Watson is familiar with the strikers his deputy defenders will be coming up against today, having coached JJ O’Donnell and Connor Thompson at Gateshead, and Dan Maguire at York.

Of O’Donnell, Watson said: “He’s a good lad, a very energetic character and footballer, and he’s kind of done what our players have had to do this season. I’ve always known him as a left wing-back or left midfielder but this season he’s playing more central, off the left, in the hole.

“I’ve not seen a lot of him but he’s obviously doing well.

“He’s a good experienced head.

“I’ve had a few of them at Gateshead - Connor Thompson, who’s playing up front for them - and we all know we’ve had Dan Maguire in the building. We know what he’s capable of.

“Blyth’s where he’s played his best football and scored most goals so he’s back in his comfort zone. He’ll be a big threat.

“We’re aware of all their threats but if we get our game right, and we get everybody firing at the same time, we’re confident we can win the game.”