ROCHDALE boss Alan Kilshaw knows his buoyant side are big favourites for tomorrow's Ladbroke's Challenge Cup clash - but he is expecting a backlash from bogey team York.

The Hornets lost all three games against the Knights last season, and have won only once in the last seven meetings between the clubs.

Yet it was they who gained promotion to the Championship and, having won at big guns Bradford and Featherstone in their two away games this term, their much-strengthened team are odds on to complete a hat-trick on the road in tomorrow's fourth round tie.

The Knights, by comparison, nearly went under, suffered a player exodus and are rebuilding under James Ford, albeit heartened by the off-season takeover.

Said Kilshaw: "York embarrassed us three times last year. They were the only League One team to beat us at home and they did it twice. I don't think they trained for two weeks for one of them (due to off-field issues) and still came and beat us.

"It's two very different sides now, though, although the coaching staff and a few players are the same.

"I know how good a coach James is. They're a young side this year and will be inconsistent - but they probably didn't perform too great against South Wales last week so they'll probably play well this week.

"We know it will be tough. We're favourites, we're a Championship side and we should win. But we're usually underdogs and our lads have to manage these expectations."

Asked about his squad compared to last year, Kilshaw explained: "We've made about 10 changes - that's difficult after winning a (play-off) final but some players we had were good in League One but would've struggled in the Championship.

"We wanted players who knew how intense this league was."

Rochdale sit fifth after six games, their latest outing being a bruising 26-26 home derby draw with Oldham.

Kilshaw said: "We've had a couple of losses, to Hull KR and Halifax, in games we felt we could've won.

"It's a relentless competition. In League One you could play a York or a Barrow but then have someone like Coventry next up. That's the biggest difference we've found."

He added: "The Bradford win - they'd had some trouble (off the field) but have picked up wins since. I rate Featherstone as one of the top two in the league so to win there shows how far we've come."

Danny Bridge (ankle) is out but fellow second-row Jono Smith, prolific in League One, is set for his first outing of term after a six-match suspension imposed for comments made on Twitter following the promotion final loss to Toulouse last season.

Jack Francis and Luke Fowden also come into the 19.