TEENAGE York City striker Flynn McNaughton has got over his initial stage fright and feels ready to start his first senior game.

The 17-year-old forward has admitted he was a little daunted when thrown on as a 64th-minute professional debut during last month’s 1-1 home draw with Chorley.

But he has felt more at home during subsequent 54th-minute and 61st-minute run-outs during the defeats against Harrogate Town and Scarborough Athletic respectively.

With Jon Parkin, Alex Kempster and Louis Almond still in the treatment room and misfiring pair James Gray and Raul Correia continuing to underwhelm, there is a real chance McNaughton could be given a starting shirt this weekend at Gainsborough and, on that prospect, he said: “I was a little bit nervous coming on for the first time but, after that first game, I’ve settled down a bit in the last two games and I’m here to start of the gaffer needs me to.”

Should McNaughton lead the line on Saturday, it represents a drastic change in fortunes for a player who suffered every youth-team hopeful’s worse nightmare 12 months ago when academy schoolboys were being selected ahead of him for under-18 duty.

Ryan Edmondson and Gabby McGill have since illustrated their potential by securing respective moves to Leeds and Middlesbrough and, on his route to first-team selection, McNaughton confessed: “It was desperately hard towards the end of last season for me.

“I wasn’t playing a lot. Ryan Edmondson was starting most of the youth-team games and then Gabby came in as well. I had a few good games for the reserves when Ryan was injured at the start of this season and I also got a good understanding going with him for the youth team after Gabby had left over the summer.

“But, when Ryan also moved on, it opened the door for me a bit more in terms of the first team. Then, with the injuries getting worse and worse, I had a feeling my chance might come eventually.

“I didn’t think it would be three appearances in a row though. I thought it might be ten minutes here and there.”

McNaughton’s eagerness to continue showcasing his first-team credentials also saw him play on successive days this week when, despite not getting to sleep until 3am following his half-hour outing at Nuneaton on Tuesday night, he scored for the reserves and played 78 minutes on the following afternoon in a 1-1 draw against Grimsby.

Detailing that schedule, Scarborough-based McNaughton added: “I got home at 2.30am from Nuneaton and got to sleep about 3am. I was then up at 9.15am to report for the reserve game.

“I only played half-an-hour the night before, but it was the travelling that killed me more than anything. It had to be done though and I was keen to play on Wednesday too.

“The reserve games have given me the chance to play against people who are a bit stronger, because there are senior players who are coming back from injuries, which makes it a good platform to impress the gaffer as well.”

City’s management team will have taken particular notice of McNaughton’s goal, which was tucked away after good work by 16-year-old Vinnie Steels, who made his professional debut at Nuneaton.

McNaughton feels he has struck up a good understanding with former Darlington winger Steels for the youth team and reserves since the latter’s arrival in February, which could now benefit the senior side.

“Since Vinnie’s come in, I’ve got on well with him,” McNaughton reasoned. “I know what he plays like already and it was a good bit of play by him down the wing for my goal on Wednesday.

“He picked me out and put the chance on a plate for me, so I didn’t have to do a lot to score. He’s done well since coming in and deserved his debut at Nuneaton.”

McNaughton is also now targeting his next landmark – a first goal at National League North level.

“I’ve scored a lot this season,” he pointed out. “This week’s goal was my second for the reserves and I’ve got 11 in the youth team, so I definitely feel like I can take that into the first team.”

McNaughton belonged to Scarborough Athletic’s academy until he switched to City at under-14 level when the club were still in the Football League.

He is too young to remember the last league meeting between his home-town club and current team – in 2006 – when he was five.

McNaughton has already tasted a North Yorkshire derby against Harrogate, though, while his dad Michael played for both of the Minstermen’s local rivals and remains his son’s biggest mentor.

“He’s been brilliant and a big help,” McNaughton admitted of his father’s influence on his career. “He knows the game and, even though he was a centre back and I’m a forward, I think he knows what he’s talking about and I don’t think I’d be doing this now if it wasn’t for him.”

City’s 25-goal top scorer and former Championship campaigner Jon Parkin has also helped the fledgling forward take his first steps in the pro game, with McNaughton revealing: “Before my first game, he took me aside and said, if I came on and got my chance, just to keep it simple and stay between the goalposts.

“He told me that’s where I belong as a strike and, between him and Amari Morgan-Smith, before he left, they gave me a lot of advice when I was training with the first team.”