YORK City manager Gary Mills has admitted he is surprised Mansfield Town have allowed him to bring centre-back Chris Smith back to Bootham Crescent.

Smith, who made 79 appearances for the Minstermen between 2001 and 2004 before being released following the club’s relegation from the Football League, was an ever-present for the Stags prior to last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Darlington.

But loan moves for Oxford United’s Rhys Day and Simon Grand, from Fleetwood Town, have left Smith surplus to requirements at Field Mill, allowing Mills to snap up his services until the end of the season.

The former Leeds and Reading trainee is set to make his second debut for City in tomorrow’s FA Cup fourth qualifying round tie at Kidderminster and the move sees Mills reunited with the defender he made captain at previous club Tamworth last season.

Smith, now 29, joined the Lambs in the summer of 2009 following spells with Stafford Rangers and Worcester City.

About bringing him back to City six-and-a-half years on from his last spell, Mills said: “We have taken Smudger on loan with an agreement to keep him until the end of the season.

“He was my skipper last season so I know all about him and am delighted to get him in. He has become available, which surprised me because he’s done superbly at Mansfield, but they’ve had a big influx of money and have got more centre-halves in.

“He’s a good player and I’m sure he will do well for us. Whatever people thought of him when he was here before, he’s better than when he left and is a good leader.

“He knows this league and knows me. He also knows how I like to play and what I want from him.”

Smith scored for Tamworth in a 1-1 draw at Bootham Crescent last season when Mills used him in a holding midfield role but the City boss admitted he is unlikely to repeat that move in his new job, adding: “He can play there but I had to do things like that at Tamworth because I had a small squad and needed to play people out of position. I don’t feel I will have to do that here.”

Mills and Smith, meanwhile, will come face to face with three more Tamworth old boys at Aggborough tomorrow.

Striker Nick Wright, midfielder Tom Shaw and defender Michael Brisoce all made the short move across the Midlands this summer and Mills said: “They all did really well for me and I know what they are and aren’t capable of.

“They might want to put one over on me because we drew 2-2 there with Tamworth earlier in the season and I know the side and manager well as they were local rivals really.

“If it’s 2-2 again, though, and we have to bring them back here for a replay that would not be the end of the world.”

Kidderminster old boy David McDermott is also poised to make the squad against his old club after being re-signed by Mills.

McDermott was released by previous caretaker chief Andy Porter for what The Press believes was a breach of club discipline – going out for a drink the night before a game.

New chief Mills, though, will give the 22-year-old winger another chance to impress, providing he does not let his standards slip on and off the pitch.

Mills said: “He does have a chance of being involved tomorrow because he’s a good player who I have always liked.

“Different managers have different opinions but, whatever might have gone off in the past, he has a fresh start now. If anything happens, I will sort it from now on but I make my own judgements on players as long as they don’t let the club down on and off the field.”