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Steve Watson prepares to face former captain

By Dan Simmonite | 4th January 2021

Steve Watson is looking forward to facing his former captain, Russ Penn, and was keen to give credit to the Kidderminster Harriers manager for the start they have had this season.

The City manager said: “He should be delighted. He’s had a great start, Gloucester have made an outstanding start, but what King’s Lynn were doing at the end of last season, they may well have a spell.

“We both know Russ and he is a very competitive and intense football man and he will be desperate to do well and do well against us.

“He’s made a good start, recruited well and has got himself a really strong squad there.”

Penn, a former York City player over two spells, played under Watson for Gateshead in the 2017-18 season, making 51 appearances in all competitions. He then ended his playing career at Aggborough before he was offered the Manager role with the club in February 2020 after an initial stint as interim manager in late 2019.

Watson added: “The situation with Russ will be a little bit more old school than what you see on TV every week. I don’t think there will be any hi-fiving and hugs in the tunnel – not just for social distancing – that’s just the way we work.

“There will be a chat after the game but make no mistake he will be wanting to beat us and we are certainly looking to beat them but it’s business as usual in that respect.

“Like York, Kidderminster is a big club at this level and they will have given him a good chance to recruit and will have expectancies – the same as our club, the same as Fylde have and the same Boston have.

“He’s met all those expectations early on and, like us, he will be looking to carry it on.”

The City squad have struggled to get on the grass in recent weeks with the weather causing havoc, but Watson was pleased to get back on track today with a full session at Bootham Crescent.

He said: “We had a good session today. We trained at Bootham which is the first sort of proper session we’ve had. The rest has been general fitness. You are reluctant to train on 3G too often because various players have various issues with it.

“It’s just a balancing act at the moment when it comes to training and I think everyone will be in the same boat.

“The lads just want to get a good run going. They want to be playing three, four, five games in a row without a disruption but there’s no guarantees at the moment on top of a bad spell of weather coming as well.”

City sit 6th place in the National League North despite having five games in hand and are due to play eight games over the next four weeks to make up for the postponements earlier in the season.

Speaking on the fixture congestion, Watson said: “It’s just something we’ve got to get on with. We’ve missed a lot of games and missed a lot of training together. We had a big turnover of players and by January you would hope to be well into your stride and know each other’s games inside out and know each other socially – all of that hasn’t been able to happen.

“We find ourselves in the first week of January having only played eleven games. But looking at the league there’s lots of different scenarios with different teams who’ve had different problems so there’s no point in moaning about it we have to get on with it and make the best of it.

“I’ve always said ten or twelve games in you’ll know where you are but we are looking at a team sitting top of the league who have played five more games than us and we’ve only had one game called off because of the weather - but it is truly a unique situation.”

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