YOUTH team centre-back Dean Lisles has been challenged to prove he is ready for senior football.

Lisles will play for the reserves against Darlington in a behind-closed doors match at Bootham Crescent this afternoon, having recently been issued with squad number 22 for the Minstermen.

The 17-year-old defender has been thrust into first-team contention because of injuries to Djoumin Sangare, Alan O’Hare and Ben Purkiss.

With Luke Graham also yet to extend his loan stay from Mansfield, former Joseph Rowntree School pupil Lisles could feature in Saturday’s FA Trophy trip to Hinckley United.

The 6ft 2in tall teenager played as a substitute against Bradford in pre-season, but has yet to make a competitive senior squad.

About his chances of figuring at Hinckley’s Greene King Stadium, City boss Martin Foyle said: “He does come into the equation.

“He’s a big, honest lad and, when he trains with the first team, he always kicks them so they know he’s around. He’s not a leader as such for the youth team, but he leads by example.

“He puts his foot in and isn’t slow either. He’s one of a number of players who have got to show me this afternoon how much they want to be a part of things.

“I don’t want anybody going through the motions against Darlington. I want them firing, biting and snapping because we need everybody’s fitness levels high going into Christmas.”

Purkiss (chest), Sangare (adductor muscle) and O’Hare (ankle) will all miss today’s game.

Only right-back Purkiss has an outside chance of returning against Hinckley from the crocked trio, meaning Foyle is still keen to conclude a one-month loan extension for Graham. He said: “It’s one of the longest-running loan sagas I’ve ever known. He’s done fantastic for me and everything about him has been plusses so, with three injuries, I’d be more than happy for him to sign for another month and then let him think about what he wants to do in January.”