GARY THORNTON is poised to give youth a chance when York City Knights take on North Wales Crusaders in their second outing of pre-season on Sunday – having been cheered by the teenagers’ talents in training.
At least three of last season’s under-18s are in line to don first-team shirts, with Luke Tomlinson set to follow up a decent show as substitute against York Select last Sunday with another run-out, alongside Greg Minikin and James Morland, two others on the 2013 U20s books.
Boss Thornton is to shuffle his squad around against the Welsh Championship One outfit, with captain James Ford almost certain to sit this one out as the coach tries to find a balance between gelling his team, getting them match-fit for the Championship opener on February 3 and keeping them fresh. And that includes having a look at the youngsters on the books – albeit not all at once.
“I wouldn’t want to play them all at the same time but rather mix them in with more experienced players but it will be good to have a look at them,” said Thornton.
“Whether they feature in the first team much this year remains to be seen but we need to know that, if we need to rely on them at some point, then we’ve got people we can call on. We don’t want too many out there all at once – which is what Spuggy (2012 player-coach Chris Thorman) had for a while last year where he had three or four, or even six or seven, kids in at one time.”
Former Skirlaugh ARLC junior Tomlinson could start on the wing, where he impressed as a second-half sub against the Select side, not least when covering back to deny the pacy Leigh Rientoul a try.
Morland could feature off the bench at stand-off, where he played for York College, or full-back, where he played for the U18s, while Minikin is set for a run-out in the threequarters.
Thornton added: “The thing that worries me a little bit about James and Greg is the physicality. They’re still growing and they’re quite lightweight. It’s about how they handle the physicality.
“They’ve all gone well in training. I’m very pleased with them. One of the things we wanted was to give them good pre-season conditioning, and the benefit of a good off-season weights training programme. They need to get bulk on their frames.
“I’m impressed with their skill levels, and they’re quick kids as well.
“Luke did himself no harm last Sunday. He performed very well. James Ford, as U20s coach, thinks highly of him. He gave good performances last year, which is why he’s been pushed into the first-team picture. Hopefully Greg and James will do likewise. We want to give them an opportunity where we can.”
Admission for Sunday’s match reverts to normal match-day prices of £14 for adults, £10 concessions and £3 for U16s, with a £2 transfer to seating. Fans can get a £2 discount if tickets are bought before 5pm today from the Knights office at Roland Court, Huntington Road, tel 01904 767404.