YORK City Knights are in a tough patch - and head coach James Ford is calling for fight and solidarity to get them out of it.

The Knights have suffered four Betfred Championship defeats on the bounce, most recently going down 37-12 at lowly Whitehaven on Sunday.

Prior to the Haven game, York were edged out by Batley Bulldogs at the LNER Community Stadium.

While Ford was able to reflect positively on his side's performance against third-placed Batley in the 22-20 loss, he was somewhat more subdued following the Whitehaven game.

The Knights host Newcastle Thunder in the league on Sunday (3pm) and thus have a chance to battle back to a position of strength in the mind and on the field - and that is just what Ford hopes his side can do.

“Obviously we’re all disappointed," he said. "None of us want to be in this position. That goes for everybody associated with the club.

“Again, we’ve had a good look at it, we’ve had some honest conversations and we’ve been working really hard at improving what we served up.

“Everybody associated with the club wants to do better and deserves better.

“We’ve worked really hard this week and will continue to work really hard.

"I’m looking forward to a response on the weekend. I’m looking forward to seeing us kick better, make less basic errors, get less frustrated, and fight really hard to be in the game."

After having started term with play-off aspirations, York now sit ninth in the table. Halifax Panthers occupy sixth spot with 14 points to the Knights' eight.

Following the Whitehaven defeat, captain Chris Clarkson was of a similarly downbeat mood and said that the Knights are low on confidence at the minute.

This comes following a run of defeats which have prominently featured an accumulation of errors.

Asked if the Knights were feeling under pressure, Ford was philosophical and reiterated the need for York to show their mettle.

“There’s always pressure in sport, there’s always pressure in life," he said. "People get frustrated because they want us to win every week and play well every week.

“There’s always pressure.

“But what we need to do is pull together and work our way through it. Every team, player and coach has a tough patch or tough patches and - let’s not hide from it - we’re in one at the minute.

“What we need to do is pull together, work really hard and fight our way through it.

“I saw some really positive signs against Batley. Less so against Whitehaven, but it wasn’t a lack of effort.

“Potentially there may be a lack of confidence across one or two areas of the team. The only way to develop confidence is by playing well. The only way to start playing to our potential is to stick together and work really hard."

Meanwhile, young half-back Riley Dean has returned to York on loan after being recalled by parent club Warrington Wolves ahead of the Batley game.

“Really pleased to get Riley back," Ford commented. "He’s got the potential to be a really good player.

“If we can facilitate his development, we’ll be really pleased, and if he can help us get back on track, I’ll be even more pleased."

It is expected to be a season-long loan with a 48-hour recall, as before.

“Clubs need to cover themselves if they get in a situation like we’re in now,” Ford added.

Perry Whiteley has returned to York following his loan to Featherstone Rovers.