JAMES FORD says he will give captain Chris Clarkson "every chance" of proving his full fitness ahead of this weekend's Betfred Championship season opener against Toulouse Olympique.

Clarkson has been suffering with a sore Achilles since York City Knights' 14-2 away win at London Broncos in the Betfred Challenge Cup at the weekend.

The Knights skipper has been named in the 21-man squad to face promotion favourites Toulouse and Ford will give the back rower as much time as he can before making a final decision.

“We’ve got a little bit of a concern about Clarky," reported the York head coach. "He’s got a sore Achilles, I think that’s from the (3G) surface that we played on at the weekend.

“Then you factor in the travel and how that impedes your recovery. We’ll see how that settles down but we’ll give him every chance to play because he’s really big for us is Chris.”

Hooker Kriss Brining and second-row Marcus Stock are confirmed absentees, with returns this weekend coming too early for the pair, amid their hamstring injuries.

“They won’t feature," said Ford. "Stocky might be available for the Wigan game (next week) and Kriss probably the week after against Sheffield (Eagles).

“It’s just a little bit early for them.”

Ford will be able however be able to call upon loanee half-back Riley Dean for the first time this season, having been made unavailable by his parent club Warrington Wolves for the opening matches of the year in the Challenge Cup.

“He’s trained remarkably well with us and I’m really impressed by his attitude," said Ford. "Through no fault of his own, he wasn’t available for selection in the two previous games.

“He did the best version of Anthony Thackeray I’ve ever seen, in training for us in the build-up to the Sheffield game.

“And he did a fair job of being Cory Aston for the London game, but sadly Cory didn’t play.

“His approach is really professional, he’s a confident young man, he’s got a strong running game and short kicking game.

“But, we’ll make the final decision a little later down the line.”

Last weekend's win at London concluded York's on-field preparations for the start of the Championship season. Having run Betfred Super League title contenders Hull FC close in a pre-season friendly and beaten Sheffield and London in the cup, Ford is happy with his side's progress this year.

“I think we’re in a good position. I think that Covid or no Covid, this has been our best pre-season.

“The boys have done really well at dealing with all of the mitigation. The length of time that we’re at training has increased substantially based on getting our Covid testing and being in smaller groups.

“Previous teams that I’ve coached may not have dealt with it as well, but these boys have been superb and I’m really proud of that.

“Having more players available and competing for places, has helped us do slightly different things. We’ve put game model into practise, 13 on 13, under fatigue and under pressure.

“That has given us clarity on areas that needed tweaking and on some individuals that were excelling and individuals that needed to improve in one or two areas.

“I think we’re in a good spot and we’re really excited for the challenge of Toulouse.”

Ford has made two alterations to the squad which travelled to London, with Ben Jones-Bishop coming in to the fold instead of Jason Bass and Sam Scott making way for Dean.

York City Knights' 21-man squad to face Toulouse Olympique: Marsh, Salter, Atkins, K Dixon, O'Hagan, R Dixon, Jubb, Teanby, Clarkson, Cuthbertson, Baldwinson, Kirmond, Green, Spears, Porter, Whiteley, Jones-Bishop, Barcoe, Washbrook, Dean, Dow-Nikau.