GARY THORNTON’S class of 2014 features no fewer than 15 players who have come through York City Knights’ youth structure at some stage – a figure which is testament to the club’s development policy.

There are 39 players in total in the Knights squad that kicks off the Championship One season, though that figure includes the young guns who are earmarked for reserves (under-20s) action.

Indeed, 13 of the 39 qualify as U20s, though several more are not much older, with only nine men in the entire squad having been born before 1990.

New signings Iain Morrison and Lee Paterson increase the average age in the squad and their experience could prove crucial, along with that of player/assistant-coach James Ford and captains Jason Golden and Jack Lee.

Keeping the likes of Morrison and Golden fit throughout the season, and especially at the business end of term, could also prove key following their injury trouble.

Ford has become Thornton’s number two, effectively swapping places with Mick Ramsden who takes over the reserves (U20s). Ramsden’s team, rather than compete in an U20s merit league, will this year be playing friendlies.

Another change in the boot room has seen Jamie Bell come in as head of strength and conditioning, with Jamie Carruthers and Dan Martin in as nutritionists.

The Knights squad will be supplemented by dual-registration players from Castleford, their new partner Super League club following the early cessation of last year’s controversial agreement with Hull.

Full-back/stand-off Ben Reynolds is the first player to make the dual-reg move this year.