YORK City Knights boss James Ford says the aim is to win at promotion rivals Whitehaven on Sunday - but that the impending rematch in the play-offs is the clear priority.

No matter what happens this weekend, it is almost certain that Haven and the Knights will finish third and fourth respectively in Kingstone Press League One and, if it does end that way, they will meet again back in west Cumbria in a play-off semi-final shoot-out in two weeks' time.

The result in Sunday's dress rehearsal (3pm) is of secondary importance, therefore, to that in a fortnight, and that is reflected in Ford's team selection, with alterations to the pack and form players Brad Hey and Joe Batchelor given time off to rest niggles.

Ford says he has selected his "least injured 19", but admitted he would have probably made changes anyhow, before stepping up play-off preparations via next week's last game of the Super 8s, at home to Newcastle.

"We were going to rotate things anyway to make sure people are fresh for Newcastle and the semi-final," he explained.

"For Newcastle we'll do what's best to make sure we go into the semi-final with consistency and fluidity - ultimately that's our priority.

"If players need to rest before the play-offs, they'll get that. If they need game time to find some form, they'll get that.

"We want to win these two games, but we have to prioritise that semi-final."

Centre Hey, who played through injury in last week's thrilling comeback draw with Doncaster which secured York's play-off berth, is left out, with in-form back-row Batchelor also rested.

Adam Robinson (hamstring) joined fellow prop Ross Osborne (ankle) in the treatment room, while Ryan Mallinder is also unavailable, so Ford is likely to shove former Warrington forward Jordan Cox up top from second-row, probably off the bench. That in turns means Joe Porter will start in the back row.

In come Adam Swift at centre, James Haynes onto the bench, and, for a rare outing, Liam Thompson into a new-look second row alongside Porter.

Ben Dent and Pat Smith are added in the 19.

With loanee second-row Zeus Silk having left the club, hooker Will Jubb, Swift or Haynes may be asked to do a temporary shift in the back row.

Still out injured are Tommy Saxton (groin) and Harry Carter (hernia), although they, like Robinson, Osborne, Hey, Batchelor and Mallinder, are likely to be in contention for the play-offs.

Said Ford of his line-up: "The players who are playing are good players training in good facilities and we expect them to perform to the standards we've been striving for all season."

As things stand, Toronto, Barrow, Whitehaven and York have secured top-five spots with two games to go, with Doncaster, Keighley, Newcastle and even Workington having mathematical hopes of bagging the last play-off berth.

Canada's full-timers are big favourites to seal the title - and sole automatic promotion place - and will do so tomorrow with a win or draw at home to second-placed Barrow.

The Raiders - two points behind the Wolfpack but with only faint hopes of catching them given the points-difference deficit - are on course for the runner-up berth, sitting four points above Whitehaven. That would give them a home semi-final against the team finishing fifth.

They need to lose to Toronto and then Keighley for Whitehaven to have any chance of usurping them, with Haven also needing to beat both York and Workington and overturn a points-difference deficit of 113.

Whitehaven are otherwise assured of third place, and a home semi-final with the team in fourth.

The Knights occupy that spot, with only Doncaster, two points below, able to catch them.

Ford's men need three points from four games to be mathematically certain of fourth place, but, with Doncaster following this weekend's match against Newcastle with a trip to Toronto, and York having a points-difference advantage of 76, the Knights could feasibly lose both their matches and still finish above the Dons.

Doncaster, for their part, are three points above Keighley and Newcastle, and victory this weekend would seal their play-off spot. Defeat would open the door for the Cougars and the Tynesiders to sneak in.

Workington are the rank outsiders, needing a stack of results to go their way to nick fifth place.

Ford added: "For the integrity of the competition we want to play to our best and win the game. If we win, it guarantees fourth place - but it won't guarantee us promotion."

Whitehaven (possible): Miller, Calvert, Taylor, Parker, Burns, Roper, Crook, Shackley, Newton, Forster, McAvoy, Aiye, Olstrom. Subs: from Tilley, Holliday, Holland, Riley, Green, D Thompson.

Knights (possible): Harris, Foggin-Johnston, Swift, Butler-Fleming, Morrison, C Robinson, Presley, Dixon, Ellis, Siddons, Porter, Thompson, Spears. Subs: from Jubb, Moran, Cox, Haynes, B Dent, P Smith.