"THE lads that perform the best in the pre-season games will get the nod."

So said York City Knights head coach James Ford of his team selection for next month's Betfred Championship season opener away to Toulouse and ahead of tomorrow's second of three pre-season friendlies at home to Halifax.

York's first match of the 2020 season ended in a 12-12 draw away to Featherstone Rovers almost a fortnight ago and the Knights now face fellow play-off contenders Halifax and then Bradford over their next two games.

The matches will inform Ford of the 17 players which will play against Toulouse and there's further opportunities for two of the club's trialists - former Hull KR forward Harry Bardle and York Acorn's half-back Lewis Brown.

16-year-old pair Myles Harrison and AJ Towse, who featured against Featherstone, haven't made the squad this time around.

Castleford Tigers dual registration duo Lewis Carr and Robbie Storey are included also.

"We'll see Lewis and Harry this weekend, but we won't see Myles and AJ," said Ford.

"It's certainly nothing to do with their level of the performance or attitude towards training.

"I think everyone at the club has been blown away by their two approaches to training and becoming the best they can be.

"And we're going to continue to work with them.

"But, we're going to start focusing on the Toulouse game and they're a little bit off the level that we''re looking for to play in that game.

"Having said that, we're going to afford Harry and Lewis another opportunity to show us what they've got.

"The ball is in their court now and they've got to put their best foot forward and perform better than they did against Featherstone.

"We've not made a decision either way on the trialists. There will be discussions around Myles and AJ ongoing between me and Jon (Flatman) to see what the best route is for their development.

"Helping them is at the forefront of our decision."

Ford said that he hadn't looked at the scoreboard much against Featherstone and he stressed that the pre-season matches were about building their cohesion rather than whether his side win or lose.

"It's about the performance and building combinations and finding some fluency," he added.

"We want to make sure that there's clarity in our systems and putting some match fitness into the players too.

"Having said that, the boys are fully aware that we can only play 17 players against Toulouse.

"And the lads that perform best in the pre-season games will get the nod."

Halifax are a much changed side from the one York defeated at the Shay in their final regular season game of 2019, with plenty of players coming and going over coach Simon Grix's first off-season.

Ford said: "I think they're a good side and they carry plenty of threat and plenty of size.

"They've got some real smarts as well. I thought that their back three was good against Huddersfield.

"They were hard to handle and gained plenty of metres against a Super League side."

York City Knights squad: Marsh, Salter, Sharp, Johnston, Robinson, Jubb, Teanby, Washbrook, Scott, Spears, Brining, Green, Clarkson, Porter, Baldwinson, Stock, Hey, Wallis, Bardle (T), Brown (T), Carr (DR), Storey (DR).