JAMES FORD expects York City Knights to go into their final week of pre-season preparations with the "big boost" of having every player fit and firing.

The Knights kick off their Betfred League One season with a hugely anticipated clash against former World Club champions Bradford Bulls at Bootham Crescent a week tomorrow.

And, while head coach Ford said "one or two" players have had minor knocks in recent weeks, he believes everyone on the books will be available for training on Tuesday and therefore in contention for the following Sunday.

"It is a big boost," he said regarding the clean bill of health - which is in contrast to the Bulls, who will be missing star half-back Dane Chisholm and centre Ross Oakes for their friendly against Keighley Cougars tomorrow.

"Yes the season hasn't started but the nature of the sport is you're going to pick up injuries in training and in pre-season. It's a high-intensity contact sport.

"To have everyone ready has a real positive impact on our training and, when we train well and get preparations right, what follows generally is a really ruthless and energetic performance."

Ford's troops, having played the last of their four pre-season fixtures a fortnight ago, had been given time off training last weekend to instead have a team-bonding social get-together.

However, there was no such let-up this weekend, with the Knights set to train today at their Haxby Road base bolstered by players from partner club Hull Kingston Rovers.

The plan was to run 13 v 13 match simulation drills, and also cast an eye over potential dual-reg recruits for next week's big game against the fallen giants.

Asked if he had already pencilled in his match-day squad for next Sunday, Ford again intimated new signings may be made in the wake of star centre Jake Butler-Fleming's transfer to Toronto Wolfpack this week.

He said: "I would say I've got a skeleton of the squad in mind, but there are a number of positions where I'm mulling things over and we will have a look at different things in training.

"There may be one or two coming into the squad in the next week or so as well, which will have a bearing on that."

As for the season's kick-off, Ford added: "I think the Bradford Bulls thing has been bubbling away for everyone at the club. Both clubs are doing a good job at promoting the game.

"We have upped the intensity in training, making reference to Bradford and putting games and drills into context.

"The players are responding really well.

"The group have trained to an outstanding level. I'm really happy with what they've done in pre-season and I'm confident we will come into the Bradford game in great heart and produce a good performance."

Bradford, meanwhile, play their final friendly against neighbours Keighley at Odsal tomorrow.

Australian-born French international Chisholm, out for the past eight months due to the serious knee injury sustained at last May's Summer Bash, misses the match and remains a doubt for Bootham Crescent.

However, half-back partner Joe Keyes - another of Bradford's full-time players - has handed the Bulls a timely eve-of-season lift by declaring his fitness.

The former London Broncos playmaker has been restricted to just one brief run-out in pre-season due to a knee injury suffered playing for Ireland in the World Cup in November.