UPDATE: York City Knights' under-20s reserves friendly at Featherstone tonight has been called off due to snow. The clubs are looking into rearranging it for tomorrow night.
GARY THORNTON has not ruled out awarding first-team places on the basis of performances in tonight’s reserves friendly at big-guns Featherstone – although he doesn’t anticipate making many changes.
Thornton’s York City Knights side beat Swinton 34-12 in their opening home game of the Kingstone Press Championship and this Sunday go to his former club, Batley.
In between is tonight’s run-out which is ostensibly an under-20s encounter (8pm) but with the two clubs agreeing overage players will be allowed.
George Elliott, Aaron Lyons and Jack Iley, who have yet to taste first-team action this season, and James Haynes, who got ten minutes in the opening-day loss at Whitehaven on his return from a year out, are penned in to play, while a late decision might be made on veteran prop Paul King.
Elliott, Lyons and Haynes could be in the running to replace James Ford in the first team should the skipper fail to overcome his quad injury.
First-team squad members Tyler Craig, Kriss Brining, Tim Stubbs, James Morland and Luke Tomlinson – all U20s players – will also play along with their fellow teenage young-guns from last year’s U18s, plus new addition Sam Roe, a York St John University student who was a junior at Hull KR. Jake Joynt also gets a run, as perhaps will fellow trialist Jack Pickles.
Young hooker Harry Carter is ruled out, though, with a suspected stress fracture of a tibia.
“It’s a matter of players getting minutes under their belts,” said Thornton.
“It’s important they stay match fit and match sharp for when they are required for the first team, and it’s important they keep everybody else on their toes.”
Asked if any player could play their way into his reckoning for Sunday, Thornton said: “The 17 that have got the shirts at the moment are playing pretty well, but this is these players’ chance to stake a claim.
“Everybody has got a chance. I don’t want to make too many changes – the boys played well on Sunday so it would be difficult to leave anybody out. But James Ford is struggling a bit and at this stage is only 50-50 so we’ll see.”
Ford, who doubles up as U20s coach, will take charge tonight. He said: “The likes of George, James, Aaron and Jack will want to show Gary Thornton they should be in the team.
“Players like Greg Minikin, the Dent brothers, James Morland – it’s up to them to show they’re developing at a rapid rate and that Gary might not be able to ignore them for much longer.”
Knights U20s (probable, *denotes overage player): B Dent*, A Dent, Elliott*, Minikin, Gallacher, Morland, Haynes*, Stubbs, Poulter, Fitzsimmons, Lyons*, Iley*, Joynt. Subs from: Brining, Braithwaite, Craig, Roe, Tomlinson, Parker, Pickles.