YORK City Knights boss Gary Thornton has hailed the recruitment of Josh Tonks as perfectly timed to bolster the push for promotion - especially given that big-hitting Joe Pickets is soon to depart.

Tonks, who turns 23 in a fortnight's time, has signed for York until the end of the season after being made a free agent by Championship outfit Dewsbury Rams.

The Knights have also snapped up "very promising" 19-year-old Hull prop Zach Brehan after he was released by the Super League outfit.

But while the latter is seen more as long-term "project" and will do well to feature in the business end of the season, back-rower Tonks steps straight into the first-team frame and may well make an immediate bow tomorrow as the Knights head to Gloucestershire All Golds - the scene of their last defeat in Championship One.

Fan favourite Pickets, meanwhile, is moving to Australia later this month and next week's game against Gateshead may be his last for the club.

Thornton said: "Josh was released by Dewsbury and we've taken the opportunity to bring him in for the remainder of the season. He will be a good addition.

"It's good for us. It allows us to freshen things up a bit and put a bit of pressure on the guys already in there, plus he has Championship experience. He's not untried or untested at this level. He adds to the value of the squad and can push for first-team immediately."

Asked is bringing in newcomers at this stage of the campaign can agitate players who have taken the club to the top of the table but now fear for their place, Thornton said: "I don't see it that way.

"There are one of two with injuries and Joe Pickets is due to go to Australia soon. The timing (of Tonks' arrival) is right for me. We will need to replace Joe and Josh will be a good replacement. He's perhaps not as aggressive as Joe but he's a similar type of player.

"I would not bring in anyone just to upset the apple cart. There's a reason to bring him in and he fits the bill."

On Doncaster-based Brehan, who has been in Hull's academy for three years, Thornton said: "He has been playing for Hull's under-19s but they're not going to keep him on.

"He's got the same agent as Josh and it was mentioned this lad was looking for an opportunity. We're having a look at him really and we'll see how it goes.

"He's 19 but he's a big kid, athletic and aggressive - he carries the ball hard. He's a very promising prop forward. It's maybe a project for us. He's shown a lot of promise in training and I hope he will feature at times this season but he's just come into our environment on a short-term contract with a view to integrating him into our systems.

"He's untried and untested at this level and the play-offs and grand final might be a bit too early for him but he's one for the future."