PROP star Yusuf Sozi has banished his early inconsistency demons to become the form choice as York City Knights' National League Two title campaign and the fight for squad numbers hots up.

A man-of-the-match performance off the bench at Workington saw head coach Mick Cook throw down the gauntlet to the 23-year-old forward with a first NL2 start of the season against Keighley.

And he repaid the faith with interest in a searing man-of-the-match display to bang on the door for a second successive start at Swinton on Sunday.

"Cooky has been wanting me to play consistently all season and I'm finally doing that," he said.

"My main aim now is to keep up the good form because if everybody is on their game and playing well then the results will come."

The handling errors that blighted Sozi's start to the season were nowhere to be seen against the Cougars as he powered the ball forward and stole a try at a crucial time.

He smiled: "It was a typical Yusuf Sozi try to be honest. A lot of the tries I've scored this season have come like that. We've got a special move and everyone knows that when I put the call up I'm going in."

Sozi could not have picked a better time to hit form in a season that has been steadily led by the pack with the competition hotter than ever.

Three-times player-of-the-month Adam Sullivan was relegated to the bench and February winner John Smith dropped altogether while David Bates excelled at number ten in an ever-improving campaign. A new slimline Craig Forsyth was also impressive off the bench, despite a lack of match-fitness, and Sozi has tipped him to remain in the frame for the trip to Swinton.

He said: "There's big competition in the props but then in every part of the team there is a lot of competition for places. You get players that are playing well and then they get injured and just can't get back in again.

"If you look at Chris Ross and Craig Forsyth, for example - it's been hard for them to get back in the team but they came in against Keighley and it was great to have them back and I think they did well enough to have a real shout at keeping their places."

The stakes will be high on Sunday as Swinton look to retaliate from their defeat at Workington last weekend and launch a last charge at the title.

Said Sozi: "We made lots of mistakes when they came here on the first day of the season and we didn't complete anything, much the same as the Workington game. We watched the video and we couldn't believe how poor we played.

"It will be a hard game and we're expecting a big, physical battle in the forwards. Last week's defeat was a bit of a reality check and it took a team like Workington to make us realise how tight the league is and that there's still a long way to go."

Updated: 10:28 Wednesday, July 06, 2005