YORK City Knights are going to "show the utmost respect" to York Acorn ARLC and the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup on Sunday - by fielding their strongest possible side in the Bootham Crescent derby cracker.

The Knights have lost two packmen to injury following the bruising opening-day iPro Sport Cup win at Hunslet - Brad Nicholson to a shoulder problem and big-hitting Russ Spiers, one of the stars of the show, to concussion.

But head coach James Ford, ignoring any temptation to field fringe players against their amateur neighbours, will bring in fellow first-team regulars as replacements - free-scoring hooker Kriss Brining included, in his seasonal bow after rejecting a double-your-money move to Featherstone Rovers.

Furthermore, in a warning to their cross-city mates, Ford says he expects his side to reproduce the physicality that blew away the Hawks when they make their long-awaited competitive Bootham Crescent bow.

"We need to make sure we are as strong as we can be. We're expecting a tough test," said the Knights boss, when asked if he would use this game primarily as a way to build fluidity for the upcoming Kingstone Press League One campaign.

"Yes we need to build fluidity - there were parts of last Sunday's game that I was really pleased with, like the physicality and togetherness in the group, but there were some things I was not particularly pleased with and I want to give the boys the opportunity to improve.

"But we see this as a competitive fixture and a challenge for us.

"It will be our strongest team available, as a mark of respect to York Acorn, their players and their coach, and to the Challenge Cup itself.

"We want to produce a really good performance and play a full part in what will be a fantastic spectacle.

"We need to improve from last week to make sure we get in the hat for the next round.

"The boys are aware of the culture at this club - we thrive to improve every week, and if they want to play they need to do that."

Spiers, many people's man of the match at John Charles Stadium, left the field late in the game, not long after scoring a decisive 65th-minute try in the 24-4 win.

Ford said: "There are new guidelines from the Rugby Football League and we just need to be careful with people with head injuries. I don't think he will miss the London Skolars game next week but we have to tick the appropriate boxes.

"It's a blow. I thought Russ was excellent - the whole of our middle were excellent, building a platform of physicality for the rest of the team to play around.

"I'm confident we can produce that level of physicality week in week out, starting on Sunday.

"Losing Russ and Brad isn't good but we have players ready to come back in."

Nicholson damaged an AC joint in a collision with Hunslet powerhouse Michael Haley - something Ford reckons the 20-year-old forward can learn from.

Ford said: "Brad's going to miss the game. It's nothing serious and, if push came to shove, he probably could play this weekend but we're just being careful with him.

"He's very young for a middle player and we want to make sure he's improving physically as well as mentally.

"There were pretty big collisions all game - that was part of how we were set up to play - but Micky Haley is a very good player and put himself about and Brad got taught a bit of a lesson on that occasion.

"Brad is going to keep learning. All sorts of things go on in the middle of the field and he will come up against big, ugly, physical middles, and Michael Haley is up there with the best of them in this league."