SEAN NEWTON is back in the picture for a York City start for the first time in 11 weeks - just in time for the FA Cup first round proper.

It is far from certain the City captain will take to the LNER Community Stadium field against Buxton on Saturday (3pm) as it has been a long way back for the central defender since he picked up his knee injury at Gloucester City in August.

The 33-year-old was instructed to go all out at training on Thursday so manager Steve Watson could get a better idea of his recovery on Friday.

If he does make it back into the side, Newton may well be put in at left-back, a position which has been so troublesome for City since losing Scott Barrow in pre-season. Left-back Mitch Hancox has been loaned in from Hereford but is not eligible to play at the weekend.

"You've got your captain coming back, one of the best defenders and attacking defenders in the division ready to come back - the temptation is to put him back in," Watson said.

"But you've got to level that off against it being the right thing to do. Is he ready? Can we give it the best-case scenario that he'll get through the game?

"I asked him to go flat out in training today so we'll know more (on Friday morning)."

If Newton is not available, Watson has youngsters Jonny Haase and Lewis Cunningham available to slot in on the left of the back line. Both started City Academy's win over Darlington on Wednesday.

They may be preferred to Paddy McLaughlin, who moved back into midfield during Saturday's 4-0 win over Blyth Spartans and impressed with his irresistable drive.

On Newton potentially coming in at left-back, Watson said: "He's played half his games in his career there - I don't think he'll have forgotten how to play there.

"He's an option for Saturday.

"I'm reluctant to put Paddy back there because Paddy looked so at home and the midfield looked so good on Saturday.

"But needs must, I suppose.

"Then you've also got the option of young Jonny and Lewis. Their time will come some time and it may well be Saturday.

"We've got options and a lot to think about."

Jason Gilchrist is also nearing a return. The striker has not played since the previous round of the Cup, the 1-1 draw at home to Morpeth Town in the middle of last month, though he has featured on the bench a few times.

"He volunteered to do extra on Monday with Tim's (Ryan, youth team coach) boys, which shows he's hungry and dying to get back in," Watson said.

"He's been really unlucky. He's not been able to get that run. Like all strikers, you get on a good run, you get a few goals and your confidence rises.

"He's not really had a chance to do that yet."

Midfielder Michael Woods will not be in contention for Buxton. He has had a scan on an Achilles problem he aggravated at Boston United, while Michael Duckworth's grade-two hamstring tear "is as bad as we could have feared" Watson said. Sam Fielding could well be used at right-back again in his place.

"Sam's looked very good there. He attacked well on Saturday," commented Watson.

"When you're putting a centre-midfielder-stroke-centre-half there, you think he might err on the side of caution, but Saturday, he was quite adventurous. He's got a really good strike on him.

"He can get better in that position."

The weekend's National League North win over Blyth might just be the best showing City have put in during the competitive season, and is a good one to send York in to the Cup with.

"It was the first time that I saw something like a complete performance," Watson said. "We had a very good start and managed the middle spell well - teams aren't going to dominate for 90 minutes and we managed their spell well.

"We looked strong and confident in the second half.

"It's what I've been waiting for all season, and that's with four or five players still to come back in.

"We've had a good week, and we've had a good look at the opposition. They're a very, very good side.

"It's going to be a tough game and I'm looking forward to it."