JAMES FORD believes York City Knights loanees Mikey Lewis and Riley Dean have what it takes to become top-end Super League players in the near future.

Lewis and Dean, both 19, started for the first time together in the halves in York’s 1895 Cup semi-final win over Swinton Lions, with Matty Marsh reverting to full-back.

The pair performed admirably in the absence of usual organiser Brendan O’Hagan and showed their ability at controlling the game, having mainly been famed for their running threats.

While Knights head coach Ford admitted that the team “got a bit lost at times”, he foresees big futures for the teenage pairing.

“There were a couple of play-fives where the ball has gone to the wrong person or we’ve shifted it when we’re coming back off a shift and the reset shape wasn’t where we needed to be,” said Ford. “We’ll go back and have a chat about that and see why that fell down.

“But we’re talking about two 19-year-old lads who are playing in a semi-final. That’s now in their toolkit, they’re more experienced players than they were yesterday and they’ve got us through to win the game.

“In 2022 or 2023, can I see those two playing at the top end of Super League? Absolutely.

“We need to keep helping them to improve and hopefully they can help us improve as well.”

Ford reported that the injuries to O’Hagan and winger Ben Jones-Bishop are thought to be short-term.

“They’ve both got minor muscular injuries, so we’re hoping Bish will be available for selection next week,” he said.

“We possible could have shoehorned in Brendan O’Hagan but I wanted to give the spine an opportunity to get some time together.

“There’s been so many occasions this year where we’ve just had to wait until Sunday and put them in together.

“That’s not giving them the best chance to form a relationship so we went with what we had at the start of the week.”

Otherwise, the Knights came through fairly unscathed against Swinton, with Danny Kirmond the only significant cause of concern.

Liam Salter also played with a head bandage and a scrum cap after a gruesome head knock he sustained in training.

“Kirmo has got a sore shoulder, so we’ll see how that settles down,” Ford continued. “It was a semi-final so it was going to be intense.

“There’s been no absolute catastrophes like we’ve had in previous games where we’ve been down to 13 (players) for an hour.

“Unfortunately, Salts had a clash of heads in training on Tuesday with Kieran Dixon. I think he (Salter) had 15 stitches in the front of his face and Kieran had five or six.

“I’ve got a massive amount of respect for Liam for him to put his hand up to play with that injury, a broken nose and what looks like an axe wound to the front of his face.

“But if there’s one player who can do that, then it’s Salts.”

York return to Betfred Championship action this weekend when they travel to the Shay Stadium to face fellow play-off chasers Halifax Panthers.

“I watched Halifax’s game against Featherstone and they’re a really good team on form,” Ford said.

“They’ve got some big, strong middles who carry well with good halves. We’ll have our hands full, that’s for sure.”