YORK City defender Darren Kelly has admitted fearing his KitKat Crescent days might be numbered after failing to start the first 14 games of the season.

But the 29-year-old defender is now hoping to retain his place in City’s side after his recall coincided with a clean sheet during Saturday’s 2-0 win at Woking.

That match was only the second time Kelly has made the Minstermen’s starting XI since the middle of March – the other occasion was a meaningless trip to Salisbury on the final day of last season.

Prior to the weekend, he had also enjoyed just two substitute outings this term but looks certain to begin his first home match for more than seven months when Rushden and Diamonds are the visitors on Saturday.

About his lengthy absence, Kelly said: “It goes through your mind whether you are going to get another chance and I’m my own worst critic.

“I beat myself up about things and I was analysing everything with a fine tooth comb.

“At times, you can get disillusioned, upset and annoyed but I’m not somebody who wants the team to lose to get in the team. I’m the opposite – I’m everbody’s supporter.

“Dave McGurk and Danny Parslow have been doing very well and I decided I just needed to keep working hard and make sure I was ready for my chance, which I was at Woking – everything felt right.

“We won and kept a clean sheet, which was fantastic and I just hope I’ve done enough to stay in the team now so I can have the physical and psychological boost of getting my match fitness back.”

Kelly added that losing three-quarters of a stone over the summer might have proven counter-productive as he felt drained in pre-season matches.

He also believes the timing of his marriage on July 26 – arranged prior to his move to City last autumn – helped contribute to missing out on first XI inclusion at the start of the new season.

The former Derry City defender admits, though, that his biggest stumbling block has been the form of fellow centre-backs Parslow and McGurk.

He said: “I’ve got the highest regard for Danny and David. They are absolutely quality and, when I was out of the team, I knew it wouldn’t be easy to get back in.

“Going to a back three, like we did on Saturday, might have been the only way. You know playing alongside them not much will get past.

“TY (McGurk) is so composed and, if the ball goes over our heads, you know Danny has the pace to cope with that.” Former Welsh Under-21 international Parslow has emerged as City’s most consistent performer this term and Kelly is predicting a bright future for his 23-year-old team-mate.

He said: “I’ve got big hopes for Danny. He’s getting better and better and is always working hard to improve his game.

“He stays behind after training to do extra work whether that’s strengthening his left foot, heading, sprinting or general fitness. He’s also a very sensible, genuine lad and sometimes your off-field qualities are as important as your on-field ones.”

Kelly, meanwhile, is hoping his physical approach to the game can complement Parslow and McGurk’s more refined qualities if City boss Walker retains his 3-5-2 formation.

The Irishman’s prodigious headed clearances were a regular feature of Saturday’s game and he added: “At Derry, I headed a few out from corners and they went out for a goal-kick at the other end.

“I started playing senior football at 15 watching old-fashioned centre backs and I’d class myself in that mould a bit. I like to make tackles and attack headers.

“I know that can lead to a few smashed heads but you can’t think about that. You have to take what comes.”