SHAY McCartan has been promised a role in City’s bid to climb straight back out of League Two.

The forward has made a stop-start return to the club so far this season.

He was not in the squad for Saturday’s win over Exeter because of a training injury that is also expected to rule him out for the FA Cup first-round clash at Shrewsbury this weekend.

McCartan has featured six times since coming back from a year-long loan at Lincoln, five of them from the bench. His only start was in last month’s Trophy tie against Manchester City’s under-21s.

Despite the glut of recent injuries, the Irishman has not yet nailed down a regular spot in Gary Bowyer’s league plans.

But the City boss insists McCartan, a League Two winner with the Imps in May, will definitely play his part in the club’s promotion bid.

Bowyer said: “I’ve been a big fan of him ever since I’ve arrived and banged the drum for him.

“He initially didn’t get started through injury and then picked up another one. He came on against Oldham and then came on and scored and excited us.

“He’s somebody who can produce match-winners like he did against Swindon.

“In hindsight, I probably should have put him on in one of the games a little bit earlier. But we’ve got competition, especially in that forward line.

“You talk about Remy (Aramide Oteh), Dylan Connolly, Harry Pritchard, Zeli (Ismail), Vaughany (James Vaughan) and Clayton (Donaldson) obviously when he’s back fit.

“It’s important that you have a squad of those and Shay is part of that.”

McCartan had been pencilled in to make his first league start of the campaign in the postponed game at Macclesfield 10 days ago. Then he picked up a knock at training last Monday which has held him up once more.

Bowyer added: “Shay has been patient so far. We’ll see what happens as the season progresses.

“But when his opportunity arises, I’m certain he’s one who will do everything in his powers to take it.

“Also, I personally don’t want players sat in the squad who are happy not being involved. I don’t get that.

“If I’m looking at someone and he’s happy in his work because he’s not playing, then there’s something wrong.

“We work very hard to make sure everyone has felt part of the squad from day one of pre-season. That is so important.

“It certainly does help when there are games. But you can bet your bottom dollar that there will be situations coming soon when I’ll be back to leaving people out.

“That’s a tough part of the job but you have to do it.”