Overdue debut gives York City prospect George Swan a hunger for more

GEORGE SWAN is the first to admit that his senior debut arrived late.

York's George Swan. ( Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)

The York City defender’s professional bow in Tuesday night’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy defeat to Barnsley came at the age of 21 years and 58 days.

By then, Swan’s father Peter had made 36 first-team appearances for Leeds United. The vast majority of his team-mates at Oakwell also made their senior debuts as teenagers, with Eddie Nolan turning out in the UEFA Cup for Blackburn Rovers at 17 and Michael Collins twice having taken on Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in Huddersfield Town colours – scoring in the second of those Cup ties – by a similar age to what Swan is now.

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Not that this late start is down to anything but bad luck on the part of the Minstermen defender, whose potential was such as a 14-year-old that Manchester City paid £800,000 to sign him and Louis Hutton from Leeds’ youth Academy.

Instead, a couple of nasty injuries stalled Swan’s progress during a career that has also included loan spells at Wolverhampton Wanderers and Sheffield Wednesday.

“It was great to finally get out there for my senior debut,” Swan told The Yorkshire Post. “I am 21 and am still a young lad but now I have finally been given a chance.

“It has been frustrating but that is football. My dad kept saying that I had to be patient and shouldn’t rush things. He would say I had to make sure I was ready.

“The injuries I had were serious. It probably made my debut two or three years later than I wanted it to be. But I know there is a lot more in the tank.”

Swan joined York during the summer on a one-year deal but only made the bench a couple of times under Russ Wilcox.

Jackie McNamara, who succeeded Wilcox in the post earlier this month, was full of praise for the 21-year-old in the wake of the Trophy defeat at Oakwell.

“George was excellent on his debut,” said the Scot. “He had a calmness about him. There were a couple of things I mentioned at half-time, such as how he had made it into a sprint or a race one or two times when he didn’t need to.

“But, considering he had not had an opportunity before, I thought George was solid and he can be a big player for us.”

For Swan, after being made to wait so long for his first senior appearance, backing that up with a league debut this weekend against leaders Plymouth Argyle is the target.

“It is for the manager to decide if I have done enough to stay in,” added the defender. “I put everything into it so, fingers crossed, I can play again on Saturday.

“It is the leaders next but you have to play everyone at some stage. Personally, I love a challenge. The only thing we need is the three points.

“Barnsley are a league above us so we have to take the positives from the game.”

York had taken the lead at Oakwell through Michael Coulson, whose stunning 30-yard free-kick gave Adam Davies no chance in the home goal.

Ben Pearson then cancelled out City’s opener before another wonder strike, this time from Adam Hammill, proved enough to send the Reds through to Saturday’s draw for the regional semi-finals.

Swan said: “The goals were very disappointing from our point of view. They hadn’t looked like scoring. We had been organised, were communicating well and everyone was talking. There wasn’t really a threat.

“A lack of communication was a problem, as well as probably switching off. Our concentration slipped.

“We had gone ahead through a great goal. I think Michael must have been watching me in training! No, seriously, that was a great finish to put us ahead.

“He can do that. He is one of our special players, that goal was from the very top level.

“I believe we can start climbing the league and get out of trouble.”