YORK City’s 25-goal, top scorer Jon Parkin will not return to action before the final game of the regular season at Brackley.

That is the best-case scenario, according to City sporting director Dave Penney, as Parkin recovers from minor knee surgery.

The 36-year-old veteran last played during the 2-1 defeat at Kidderminster four weeks ago, but Penney remains optimistic that Parkin would be available if the club make the National League North play-offs.

Standing in at the press conference prior to tomorrow night’s trip to Nuneaton for manager Martin Gray, who was busy with training commitments, Penney said: “Jon’s seeing a specialist towards the end of the month to get the all clear.

“He knows his knee better than anybody, because he’s been managing it for a long time now, but the time-scale we’ve been told is that he will be back for the last game of the season at the very best. He obviously wants to be involved in the business end of the season, so we hope he’ll be back for three play-off games.”

City travel to Nuneaton without Parkin and fellow crocked attackers Alex Kempster (hamstring) and Louis Almond (hamstring), as well as Jonny Burn (groin) and Alex Pattison (ankle).

Gray’s men have netted just ten times in their last ten fixtures, having plundered 24 in their previous ten and Penney reasoned that the team must improve on their recent fortunes in goal, outlining that dead-ball situations could be exploited better.

On-loan Bristol Rovers defender Burn has netted three times this season but, of the side’s other centre backs, Dan Parslow has found the target twice and Hamza Bencherif is still waiting to open his account after 60 games at the club.

“If we look at the goals we’ve been conceding recently, there have been a few worldies and some from set-plays,” Penney said. “Nobody has really taken us apart since we’ve been playing three at the back and I think it’s more about taking care of things at the other end of the pitch by finding a system to help us score goals.

“We also need to get more from set-plays with the size we have got in the team.”

Seven points clear of the relegation zone and nine adrift of the play-off positions, 12th-placed Nuneaton are one of a handful of teams in the division with seemingly little left to play for, but Penney argued that does not make the contest any easier than one against a team involved at one end of the table or the other.

“They got a 1-0 win on Saturday at Southport who are a decent side and they are safe in mid-table, so can go out relaxed and enjoy the game,” the City board member added.

Penney went on to insist that he was not aware of any truth in speculation linking Gray with the Hartlepool manager’s job after the club were taken over by former Darlington chairman Raj Singh at the weekend.

“You hear rumours and I know Raj very well, so maybe I’ll go there as manager,” Penney joked before pointing out: “There are always Chinese whispers in football, but Martin hasn’t spoken to me about it and he’s got a full-time job to do here for five league games and, hopefully, three play-off matches.

“Until I hear something, Martin tells me something or Hartlepool make an approach, I can only assume there’s nothing in it.”

In his new role as a City director, Penney went on to suggest that he would like to see improvements to the club’s match-day entertainment provision at Bootham Crescent “I’ve spoken with the DJ about trying to create a better atmosphere at the ground,” he revealed. “I’ve been to various grounds watching games and we could provide more entertainment at games to create a better match-day experience for supporters.

“We perhaps want music that’s more current and upbeat, although I know we can’t please all people, as there will be five-year-olds who want to listen to Peppa Pig and 70-year-olds, like me, that want Neil Diamond!”