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York City Knights' rallying cry from coach Mick Cook
MICK COOK has called on York City Knights fans to get behind the struggling team – starting with tonight’s televised clash at home to Sheffield.
Dissenting voices on the terraces have increased with every passing defeat as the Knights prop up the Co-operative Championship table with only one bonus point from six games.
It’s unlikely to get easier tonight against an Eagles side who, while down in seventh, are the biggest points-scorers in the league and have already comprehensively beaten York in two cup competitions this term.
But assistant-boss Cook, who rejoined the Knights’ set-up in the winter after three years as number two to Mark Aston at Sheffield, has stressed all at Huntington Stadium are doing their utmost to turn things round – hopefully as soon as tonight’s encounter in front of the Premier Sports cameras (7.30pm).
“Regarding flak for players - it’s not the ideal way to get the best out of them,” he said.
“You want the team to be well-supported and for the fans to get behind the lads and help them to get that first win and see where we go from there.
“It’s useless being negative. We’re positive. There are some very strong teams in this competition.
“We’re just looking to improve with what we’ve got. The players really want to improve and to win games. The coaching staff really want to put a formula together to win.”
As for York’s two previous games against Sheffield, Cook said: “We got in the arm wrestle both times but they’re very clinical. If you make a mistake, you get punished.
“They’ve got international players across the board - from Ireland, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Scotland. You get them in an arm wrestle but they get out of it.
“We need to be more clinical ourselves. When we ge an opportunity, we need to score. We’re not taking enough chances or scoring enough points at the moment. It’s disappointing and frustrating.
“You need to score points to win games. We need to toughen up in defence as well.
“There are a few things in there. It’s down to us to change that as a group and get through it.”
The Knights could well field the same 17 as at Swinton on Sunday. Prop Nathan Freer, who pulled out in the warm-up that day, is still struggling with a groin/hip problem to join a growing injury list. Dave Sutton, who came in as 18th man, is likely to stay as a second-row substitute.
As reported by The Press, Sheffield’s Alex Szostak and Dane McDonald complete two-match bans, while team captain Jack Howieson is also doubtful with a bug.
Fellow prop Alex Rowe, winger Scott Turner, and Dringhouses-born hooker Pat Smith could come in.
Boss Aston said his side needed to shore up their defence, which is the third-worst in the division following Sunday’s narrow loss to Leigh, but remained wholly positive over their attack.
He said: “We can play. Against Leigh we scored 30-odd points and that should be enough, but you can’t give teams simple tries.”
As for the Knights, he added: “They are pretty desperate now. When a team’s like that they become dangerous.
“Mick Cook, pictured right, knows enough about us but we’ll get the lads up for the game and we have to be a bit better than we have over the last few weeks.”
Knights (probable): Tansey, Bush, Garside, Ford, Elliott, Thorman, Johnson, Sullivan, Lee, Aldous, Houston, Davies, King. Subs: Turner, Sutton, Clarke, Hemmings.
Sheffield: from Luala-Togagea, Finigan, Yere, Taulapapa, Morrison, Brown, Brambani, Howieson, Henderson, Stringer, Knowles, Green, Hirst, Scott, Higgins, Straugheir, Hepworth, Rowe, Turner, P Smith.
Referee: Gareth Hewer (Whitehaven).