YORK City Knights boss James Ford reckons Bootham Crescent is set for a potential humdinger today - and has called on the fans to ramp up the noise.

Ford's troops, on a six-match winning run in League One, host a Whitehaven side (3pm) who have won nine from 10 and now sit second in the standings as they eye an immediate return to the Championship.

Ford believes the game of contrasting style - the Cumbrians' hurly-burly, bruising action up against York's high tempo and flair - has the propensity to be a cracker, and, with the club targeting a bumper Father's Day attendance, he is hopeful a packed Main Stand can shout his side to victory.

"They can make a massive difference," said Ford of the York crowd, which has risen in number considerably since the December takeover. "They've been great this year.

"This is probably our toughest test at home in the league and we will need a big crowd to get behind us wholeheartedly - that will give my players something extra when things get tough.

"There'll be two teams playing contrasting styles and that should make for a very good spectacle.

"Everyone's preferred style will be on display. It should be a great encounter. We're confident but not over-confident. If we play to our standards, with the supporters right behind us, we can get the points."

Haven's rookie player-coach, Carl Forster, has said that, while his side still have to face fellow promotion hopefuls Barrow and Doncaster, today's test is likely to be their toughest prior to the Super 8s.

Ford said: "That's a massive compliment, but I feel my players deserve it. They've improved tremendously through the season and are playing well.

"They are putting 30, 40, 50-minute performances together of an outstanding level.

"We need to focus on lengthening that period where we're right on the money.

"We have a lot of respect for Whitehaven. They have plenty of size and power right across the pitch. Our contacts will have to be up there and we will need to play at a high tempo."

While the Knights can not go any higher than fourth - their current position - victory today will go a long way to securing their spot in the Super 8s.

On the importance of the match, Ford said: "The value is two points but they're a team you would expect to be up there competing for promotion. They were in the Championship last year and, with the players they recruited, it will be interesting to see where we're at compared to them."

Asked who were favourites, Ford said: "Whitehaven are above us so you'd have to go with them."

He added: "They have a very big forward pack and they try to get over the top of teams with that size and physicality. They have two proper centres (Jesse Joe Parker and Chris Taylor) with a lot of strike who can pull something out of nothing.

"They're not second in the table for no reason. They're a good team.

"They play a different way to us but there's more than one way to skin a cat and it will be interesting to see who comes out on top."

Ford is set to make one or two changes to the side than overran Hunslet last week.

Like last week, he will give Andy Ellis (calf) until the warm-up to prove his fitness. Dual-reg hooker Will Jubb, who deputised to good effect last week, has not been made available by parent club Hull KR but former skipper Pat Smith is ready to step in.

James Haynes, meanwhile, also faces a late test on a dead leg picked up in training.

Back-rower Brad Hey is ready to go in at centre, in which case big prop Bobby Tyson-Wilson will go onto the bench.

Up-and-coming centre Adam Swift, now back at York after a successful spell in French rugby league, is also on standby.

Whitehaven come with the same 17 that thrashed Gloucestershire All Golds last week, plus Lewis Brown and Kurt Maudling.

The teams have not met since 2013, when Haven completed a Championship double in the season the Knights were relegated.

Knights: from Robson, Foggin-Johnston, Morrison, Hey, Saxton, C Robinson, Harris, Robinson, Ellis, Siddons, E Smith, Batchelor, Spears, Carter, Moran, Dixon, B Tyson-Wilson, Haynes, P Smith.

Whitehaven (possible): Miller, Calvert, Parker, Taylor, Burns, Roper, Crook, Shackley, Tilley, Riley, Aiye, McAvoy, Forster. Subs: from Newton, Holland, Holliday, Worthington, Brown, Maudling.