JAMES FORD will bring back big guns for Sunday's crucial Super 8s clash with Doncaster at Bootham Crescent.

Victory will leave the Knights on the verge of a play-off place in Kingstone Press League One and head coach Ford has called on a couple of old heads to lead the way.

Veteran top-end Championship stars Tim Spears and Andy Ellis, who sat out the defeat at Barrow, are recalled at loose-forward and hooker respectively, while exciting dual-reg youngster Liam Harris is also back again to provide flair from full-back.

On Press Player of the Year contender Spears, Ford explained: "We left Tim out at Barrow as a precaution. If push came to shove he could have played, but we felt it was important to give him some time to recharge batteries.

"It's great to bring him back into the side for such an important game.

"His work rate and defence are outstanding, and his leadership and mental qualities are really important."

Ellis has played in only three of the last 10 games, largely due to a calf problem, and was unavailable to go up against former club Barrow.

Ford said: "To bring in a player of that calibre is a massive boost.

"He brings a lot of energy defensively and does a lot of the little things really well. But his main strength is with the ball - he has a strong passing game and a superb running game, and he knows when to do the right thing. I enjoy watching Andy play."

On Hull KR young gun Harris, Ford added: "He's had a fantastic year and the exciting thing for me is he can go up more levels this season. He's still learning, still maturing, still building relations.

"I think his best position ultimately is half-back and he prefers that but he's certainly a very good full-back but there's not too much difference in it in terms of how we set up to attack. I'd have no hesitation in playing him there in the short, medium or long term."

Harris' deployment at the back means assistant-coach Jonny Presley continues at in the halves alongside Connor Robinson, having been recalled at Barrow for a recently rare run-out.

Said Ford: "I thought he got better against Barrow as the game went on, plus he's training to an outstanding level.

"There are some things in his game that are the best in the division, and the experience and control he brings us are important."

The trio replace Ryan Mallinder, Adam Swift and Ben Dent in the 17, while Chris Siddons also returns at prop in place of the crocked Ross Osborne.

Ford had hoped to pick from virtual full strength this weekend barring the suspended Ash Robson, but Osborne (ankle) and Dent (thigh) are ruled out and Tommy Saxton (groin), half-back Harry Tyson-Wilson (ankle) and hooker Harry Carter (hernia) remain sidelined, while James Haynes is off getting married.

The head coach suggested young centre Swift was close to keeping his place. "Adam's really unlucky to miss out," he said.

"He was good at Toronto but then missed out against Hemel, and he was good when he came on against Barrow.

"I'm quite excited about his potential. He's a great athlete, with a good frame and a fantastic attitude.

"He's played against Toronto and Barrow and done okay. If he continues to work hard and challenge himself, we could see Adam develop into a really good centre."

Talking of centres, Nick Rawsthorne returns to Bootham Crescent for the first time since scoring eight tries in five York appearances on loan from Hull FC. Rawsthorne was recalled by the Super League side then sent out on dual-reg to Doncaster.

Fellow ex-Knights Tom Carr, Russ Spiers and Mark Castle are also included in a dangerous Dons side which boasts the threats of Hull FC-bound French World Cup hopeful Hakim Miloudi, PNG international centre Jason Tali, ex-Super League prop Iafeta Paleaaesina, the Samoan star, and Aussie half-back Jordie Hedges.

Knights (possible): Harris, Foggin-Johnston, Hey, Butler-Fleming, Morrison, Presley, C Robinson, Moran, Ellis, Dixon, Batchelor, Cox, Spears. Subs: Jubb, A Robinson, Siddons, Porter. Stand-by: Mallinder, Swift.

Doncaster: from Maloudi, Rawsthorne, Carr, Cross, Tali, Doherty, Hedges, Paleaaesina, Kesik, Castle, Muranka, Martin, Miller, Spiers, Kelly, Wright, Braham, Barnett, Green.