Reluctant left back Matthew Bates is no fan of his position.

The defender does not beat around the bush when asked about his role as James Meredith’s seemingly regular back-up.

“It’s not a position I’ve played or particularly enjoy, if I’m being honest,” said Bates as he prepares to fill the role once more against Port Vale tonight.

“But the manager thinks I can do a job there and I’ll do that for the team until he brings somebody in – if and when that happens.”

Phil Parkinson still has an eye on the market for left-back options but experienced – and available – solutions for that specialist job are hard to come by.

He even looked abroad, with former Almeria full back Christian Fernandez spending a couple of days at Apperley Bridge on trial before the club said “adios”.

So Bates appears to be in it for the interim; at least until Meredith’s metatarsal is ready for the rigours of business as usual.

Since taking over from Carl McHugh for the second half at Bramall Lane a month ago, Bates has now played four full games there.

He said: “I’d probably only played there once or twice maximum before now. I’ve been at right back for a bit but never on the left.

“Playing as a defender and midfielder as well, I think I’ve got a good understanding of different positions. I know where I should be and what I should be doing on the ball.

“The hardest part is thinking about it when the ball’s coming. I’m not a left-footed left back, so you have to think about where your first touch should be.

“When I’ve played right back, I’ve liked to get forward. It’s important that a full back does that.

“Adam (Reach) has helped me a lot because he works really hard and he’s good to play with. He covers if I do get forward.

“It’s something I will try and do, especially as I get more used to it. It’s just the quality of my left foot I might struggle with!

“There was a moment at Wolves when I touched it out with my right foot and crossed it with the left – and totally shanked it.

“But I respect the manager; he’s been great for me. He asked me to play there and he knows I’ll give him 100 per cent.”

Bates is as concerned as anyone with City’s declining form, which has brought the bottom end of League One into sharper focus, but does not sense a team in terminal decline.

He said: “The spirit has never gone. Even though the run we’ve been on has been really poor, it doesn’t feel like that.

“It’s hard to explain. We got into every game thinking we can win it, so I wouldn’t say the run has killed our confidence. I just feel like a Jonah because the bad run started when I came in!

“But we’ve picked up a lot of draws and there have been some good performances. I’m sure it will turn around before much longer.”