TIM SPEARS believes there’s a good balance to the York City Knights squad for 2020 after a transitional off-season for the club.

The Knights have further strengthened their squad as they look to back up last season’s third-placed finish in the Betfred Championship with another play-offs-chasing campaign.

Six signings have been made in total, with Danny Washbrook, Chris Clarkson and Elliott Wallis being recruited from Super League while Ben Johnston, Will Sharp and James Green have arrived from fellow Championship sides.

Aside from Hull Kingston Rovers loanee Wallis, all of the new additions are 27 or over, hinting at a clear direction from the club to supplement more experienced players alongside their young crop of squad members.

Captain Spears thinks that there’s a good mix to the group heading into the new season.

“The players that we’ve brought in over the off-season are all high-quality players,” he said.

“They’re mostly seasoned players too with experience of the Championship and, in Danny and Clarky’s cases, experience in Super League.

“I think they’ll bring a lot to the club not just individually but culturally - I think they’ll be great for the club.

“If they can help out some of the younger lads, that will be great.

“I think Fordy will welcome some of their own ideas too and we’ll be able to harness that and get even better as a squad.

“Fordy has been great at picking the right senior professionals to bring into the squad.

“We’ve also managed to retain the vast majority of the players that were part of our squad last year too.

“We have recruited some more senior boys but I think we’ve got a good balance with some younger lads coming through too.

“It’s a good mix as a squad at the moment.

York’s pre-season training is already well underway, with their first match due to take place away to Featherstone Rovers on Sunday, January 5 before further warm-up games against Halifax and Bradford Bulls to follow later in the month.

The long period of preparation over the winter period may be gruelling prospect to most players, but Spears takes a different view - seeing it as an opportunity to improve his game, even at the age of 35.

“The boys are all back in training now and the holidays are all over and we’re ready to go now for pre-season,” he added.

“Personally, I love pre-season. It’s all about working hard to strengthen your own body and to get stronger for the season.

“The thing with Fordy’s training is that you’re not just doing things for the sake of it. Even the running sessions are very well thought out and there’s a clear goal and expectation out of what you’re trying to achieve from every session.

“We’re doing a lot of skills-based work and small sided games to improve our skills and both the backs and the forwards are doing their extras after training.

“In training we’re doing speed work, lots of gym work and things are varied up by the hill sprints too on a weekend.

“Pre-season is a tough period but it’s all about looking after yourself by eating right and resting at the right periods too.

“I think as a squad of players we’re very well looked after by the staff. They’re very thorough and the sessions are all really well prepared.

“When I think back to when I started in my professional career and compare those training sessions to the ones we do now, they’re completely different.

“We’re light years in front of where training was when I was a young player coming through.

“Training is of a much higher quality now and it’s well thought through. It’s varied but there’s structure there too. I think that’s been a big contribution in our success.”