YORK City Knights boss James Ford has warned his troops they cannot afford to lessen the intensity when London Skolars visit Bootham Crescent on Sunday.

The Knights have so far met five teams with genuine play-off hopes this term - underlining their promotion credentials by going joint-top of Betfred League One with victory at Newcastle last week.

Sunday's encounter (3pm) is their first against a side not tipped to be in the shake-up and, as such, Ford has taken the opportunity to rest veteran front-line prop Graeme Horne and probably Adam Robinson too, despite also being without Player of the Year second-row Joe Batchelor due to concussion.

However, he is adamant the Londoners are capable of shocking anyone in the top half, and has otherwise named a strong squad - including the inclusion on dual-reg of Super League prop Jordan Walne.

Said Ford: "We need to make sure our error rate is low and unselfish acts are high. We need to take our chances and be the hardest-working team on the field.

"If we do, we'll be fine. If we don't, London Skolars have the ability to turn us over."

Walne has played three times in Super League for Hull KR this term, in addition to his 44 appearances for previous club Salford.

Said Ford: "Jordan's got good footwork and will help us speed the game up with his shuffle and intensity in carry.

"He's got a good attitude towards defence and is well-coached. He will be a huge benefit to us."

Explaining Horne's absence, Ford said: "Both him and Adam (Robinson) are likely to have a rest. We've got 21 more league rounds, plus the cup. They will both play a lot this year. I don't expect they'll be overly happy with being left out but we've got to be careful to make sure we have them available all season."

Asked if he was concerned about the reduction in experience up top, Ford said: "It's (still) a very experienced pack with Jordan Walne, Sam Scott, Tim Spears, Andy Ellis. Mike Kelly has played a lot of Championship games.

"It's a very strong side. It shows the quality we have available.

"We know London will give us a challenge. They've got some big boys, invention in the halves and some power out wide.

"We'll have to be at our best otherwise it will be a real tow."

Matty Marsh was to remain on dual-reg at half-back but was withdrawn by Rovers due to injuries in their camp, meaning Ben Cockayne reverts to stand-off alongside Connor Robinson.

With Ash Robson recalled to the back line, Cockayne's switch sees Will Oakes, on dual-reg, stay in the centres. First-choice centre Brad Hey remains sidelined by a groin strain but is expected back soon.

St Helens loanee Aaron Smith is back as interchange hooker, with Will Jubb set to stand down after recently playing big minutes.

Kelly, meanwhile, replaces Batchelor in the second row, while props Chris Siddons and Dan Hawksworth are recalled. Dual-reg prop Josh Johnson, who played last week, is not involved.

For Kelly, it will be only a second appearance for York - his first, in the Challenge Cup at Askam, having been cut short by a hamstring pull. His last two seasons at Doncaster were also injury ravaged.

Said Ford: "I think everyone in rugby league wants Mike to get some games and get back to his best.

"He's got a great attitude. He picked up injury but worked hard on his rehab and, since coming back to fitness, has worked hard in training on what we've asked him to do.

"He's been 18th man a couple of times and prepared professionally to play. He deserves his opportunity and I hope he grasps it. He's the kind of person we want at this club."

Knights (probable): Moss, Robson, Oakes, Normington, Mazive, Cockayne, C Robinson, Walne, Ellis, Siddons, Kelly, Scott, Spears. Subs: from Smith, Porter, Ronan Dixon, Hawksworth. Stand-by: Jubb, A Robinson.

Skolars (probable): Hall, Finigan, Melling, Brown, Juma, Thorman, Coleman, Martin, Driver, Sykes, Ngawati, Nash, Chester. Subs: from A Lawrence, Robinson, Mbaraga, J Greenhalgh, Lyon.