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York City Knights boss Gary Thornton gives youth a chance in final game of season
BOSS Gary Thornton is planning on giving youth a chance tomorrow with the simple message “go and enjoy yourselves”.
Thornton’s York City Knights are already relegated from the Kingstone Press Championship so have only pride to play for in tomorrow’s final game of the season at home to Batley (3pm).
And the head coach, already preparing for 2014, is set to field a handful of young guns to see how they fare at this level, should fitness allow following the under-20s’ hard-fought semi-final defeat to Featherstone on Thursday night.
“Pride is all we’ve got to play for,” said Thornton. “The shackles are off, though, and there’s no pressure. It’s a case of going out and playing. If that’s what we need to get a winning performance then good. They can just go and enjoy it and do their best.”
Ben Dent will keep his place, Ed Smith is recalled after his fine performance on Thursday, and Tyler Craig has won a call-up. Teenager Greg Minikin, who played two full games in two days, for the first team on Wednesday and the U20s on Thursday, is also in the reckoning if able to play three matches in five days.
Kriss Brining who played Wednesday and briefly on Thursday is struggling with a neck injury but will feature if fit. Jack Iley is ready to rise out of the U20s if not.
George Elliott and Jonny Presley will also be back, with departing duo Matt Nicholson and, probably, Simon Brown set to sit out this final match of term.
The line-up will be decided over the weekend. Said Thornton: “We’ll see how the players are after training (last night).
“I’m looking to the future now, although with both the first team and U20s playing on consecutive nights, we’ll have to see how people are.
“It’s the last game of the season, though, and they’ll have a few months off afterwards.
“I’m hoping Ben and Greg are okay, and people like Tyler Craig, who has done particularly well for the U20s, deserves an opportunity. He was a bit green but has taken things on board and come on fantastically well.
“The Championship is a different standard to U20s, as is Championship One, but they’ve done all right. There are a few that probably don’t deserve to play after Wednesday and it’s not a bad thing to have another look at these lads.
“We’ve got a good underbelly of young kids coming through and I’ve been impressed by the attitude of people like Tim Stubbs and Tyler Craig and I thought they were terrific on Thursday. Their energy, enthusiasm and technical ability was impressive.”
Batley boss John Kear, with fifth place guaranteed and fourth a possibility, should have Johnny Campbell and Byron Smith available after injury, but could rest a few men in preparation for the play-offs.
Kear said: “If there are any doubts, we won’t risk anyone – we want to be right for the play-offs.
“We played really well against Leigh last week, and it’s now a matter of backing that up. We’ve won three of our last four, so we’re not stuttering. We’re in good form.
“While July was a poor month, August was a very good month.”
Knights: from Carr, Dent, Minikin, J Latus, Elliott, Johnston, Presley, Brown, Freer, Lee, Aldous, Scott, Smith, Pickets, Brining, Stenchion, Broughton, Pickles, Craig, Mallinder, S Latus, Lyons, Iley.
DONS in focus
Current standing: 5th.
Last year: 5th.
Coach: John Kear
THEY lost prop Alex Walmsley – a terrifying sight running down the Mount Pleasant slope – to St Helens but Alex Rowe came in from Sheffield to fill the void in a strong pack, which was also augmented by York favourite John Davies. Wily old coach John Kear bolstered his backs, too. Had a bad run in July but have rediscovered form in time for the play-offs.
Squad for tomorrow (possible): from Greenwood, Campbell, Walton, Faal, G Johnson, Black, Moore, Rowe, Mennell, Mullally, Bretherton, Davies, Lindsay, Flanagan, Hurst, J Johnson, Fairbank, Smith.
One to watch: full-back Miles Greenwood boasts great pace and was devastating in the reverse fixture.
Partnership club: Huddersfield Giants.
Prediction: maybe their best chance of silverware was in the Northern Rail Cup but are there or thereabouts in the league too and who’s to say Kear can’t mastermind a play-off shock?
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