JAMES FORD has issued a warning that Betfred League One rivals Keighley Cougars are “capable” of turning over York City Knights.

Head coach Ford highlighted not only the ability across the Cougars’ team but also the home support who could play a part in creating a hostile atmosphere for York, on whom the onus is to concentrate on their game and keep calm and collected.

After the match at North Wales Crusaders, Ford praised his side for the professionalism they showed in grinding out the 31-4 win in Wrexham. This attitude, he says, has become more and more prevalent among his squad since he took charge just over 100 games ago.

And Ford is aware the Knights may face a similar challenge on Sunday at Cougar Park, against a Keighley side who may demand a repeat of last week’s professionalism.

When York and Keighley met at Bootham Crescent in March earlier this year, the points stayed in the Minster city with a 26-12 win following a niggly affair.

Ford commented: “I do think they’ve become a more professional side since their coach took over. Their standards are high on match days and in training.

“We’ve been close to achieving our goals and if we continue putting in the hard work, we’ll continue improving.

“Keighley are a good side, they have a capable side and they are capable of turning us over.

“They’ve got a lot of energy in their backs and creativity in their forwards, so we’ll have to be at our best, hard-working and composed because it will be a real challenge for us.

“The Keighley fans will be getting behind their team immensely and they will make it uncomfortable for us, but it wouldn’t be a trip to Keighley if it wasn’t a challenge.

“We’re preparing for them to be aggressive and to fire into us, certainly, but we’ll just go and play our game as quickly as we can, have a plan and stick to it.

“We won’t be fazed by what they’ve been doing over the last couple of weeks and we’ll focus on ourselves.”

The sides are no strangers to tough battles both on and off-the-field, with coaches Ford and Craig Lingard having been involved in fiery exchanges in recent seasons, following the latter’s accusations that Ford tried to get Keighley players banned after a feisty clash between the sides.

But Ford is adamant no acrimony exists, saying: “From my perspective, there’s never been a hatchet (to bury).

“He’s a coach of another team and I wish him all the best. If he has one with me, I’m not interested. My interest is my team and doing our best, not about a popularity contest.”

Keighley have named former Knights Brad Nicholson, Josh Tonks and Mike Emmett in their 19-man squad. Matty Beharrell has also been named, having recovered from injury faster than anticipated alongside Matthew Bailey, who missed last Sunday's victory over West Wales Raiders.

Davey Dixon and Jose Kenga are the two to drop out.

Ford has named a provisional 20-man squad as he waits to see if Ash Robson, Harry Carter and Adam Robinson respond to treatment following their injuries last week. The former left the field following a clash of heads with Carter, who suffered an ankle injury, as did Robinson.

Also named in the squad is Hull KR dual-reg scrum-half Thibault Franck. If selected, it would be the 19-year-old Frenchman's first appearance for either side.

Keighley Cougars: Hawkyard, Gabriel, Ryder, Beharrell, Law, Conroy, Rawlins, Emmett, Wright, Hallas, Leeming, Tonks, Bailey, Hardcastle, Aaronson, Nicholson, Parker, Whiteley, Griffin.

Knights: Robson, Oakes, Hey, Batchelor, Mazive, C Robinson, Cockayne, Ronan Dixon, Ellis, Hawksworth, Kelly, Scott, Spears, Jubb, Carter, Maskill, Porter, Horne, A Robinson, Franck.