YORK City boss Martin Gray has challenged on-loan Middlesbrough midfielder Alex Pattison to help fire the club to promotion.

Pattison won The Press Player of the Month award for December during his last five-game stint for the Minstermen before returning to the Riverside last month without a goal for his worthwhile efforts.

But, having now agreed terms to be with the North Yorkshire outfit until the end of the season including potential play-off fixtures, Gray is looking for the attack-minded, 20-year-old to add goals to his game, ahead of this weekend’s home clash against National League North leaders Salford.

Expressing his pleasure at securing Pattison’s services until the summer, the City chief smiled: “On transfer deadline day, I think I spoke to his agent more than I spoke to my wife and I’d also like to thank Middlesbrough and their academy manager Craig Liddle, because they have gone over and above what they needed to do to make this happen for us.

“We have a great relationship with them and they stood by their word that, if nobody came in for Alex before the transfer window closed, he would come back here. He gave us a great injection of energy when he was here before and he has the desire to change a game.

“Even though we picked up some good results after he went back to Middlesbrough, we’ve missed him. He came here with a carefree attitude and it was great to see somebody from the academy system who doesn’t let what’s happening in the stands concern him, because the bigger the occasion, the better he seems to become.

“He gets you up the pitch as a team and he has a good final ball in his game, whether that’s a pass or a cross. I’d now like to see him add goals to his game during the rest of the season.”

Gray went on to confirm that Nottingham Forest’s Virgil Gomis and Victor Adeboyejo, of Barnsley, are both being monitored by the Minstermen as additional possible loan signings.

Both players netted in last week’s under-23 match between the two teams, although the City boss also revealed that he has been impressed by a couple of trialists, who have worked with the first-team squad at the club’s Wigginton Road training ground this week.

On the ongoing recruitment drive, Gray added: “We’re working hard and are waiting for phones to ring, because we’ve got one or two irons in the fire. Nothing has fallen through regarding the players we’ve bene watching, but we’ve also had one or two other players in the building who have given us food for thought, so we might have somebody else in for the weekend.”

Salford will arrive at Bootham Crescent 15 points ahead of their hosts with a game in hand and, on the size of the test for his players, Gray said: “You want to challenge yourself against the top teams and our mentality and discipline will be important.

“They are very strong defensively. You don’t see them conceding many goals and they win lots of games 1-0 and 2-1, because they are a very solid unit.

“They don’t have a Jon Parkin, who scores 25 goals, but they are showing that a very strong defence is as good as having a Jon Parkin. They are top because they do things right in that department and we have to make sure we do better, because I think the team who performs best in both boxes will win the game.”

Gray insisted, meanwhile, that nobody on the playing or management staff is becoming distracted by the off-pitch shares issue, despite talk of the club’s uncertain future.

“It’s not being mentioned around the building and I’m being honest about that,” he declared. “The players have got to focus on the 13 games we have got left and Salford is the most important one now.

“I don’t understand enough about the situation, otherwise I would have my say, but we just need to focus on what we do at the training ground and on match days.”