JAMES FORD has insisted that York City Knights will be “all guns blazing” for Sunday’s meeting with London Broncos and that his side will not be treating the match as a dead rubber.

The Knights are unable to qualify for the play-offs, even if they win their final Betfred Championship home game of the year.

Despite that, head coach Ford stressed that there is still plenty of motivation in his side to end a disappointing campaign on a high.

Four players have already announced their retirement at the end of the year - Tim Spears, Ryan Atkins, Danny Washbrook and James Green - while others are expected to depart York over the off-season.

And Ford wants to give them a fond farewell to celebrate their glittering careers.

At the same time, he is also focusing on performing for the club’s younger crop, who are just beginning their rugby league journeys.

“Ryan Atkins has played with broken ribs for us this year. So has Tim Spears," Ford said. “I wouldn’t want to be on that field and not giving my all because they’d let you know. I think that they deserve maximum effort from everybody in the team and everyone at the club.

“They’ve been great for rugby league and this club. They deserve a real good send-off, and that’s from me and the coaching staff too.

“This is not a dead rubber game to us. We’re going in all guns blazing and I want to win.

“I want to win for the older players leaving the club and I want to win for the younger players at the opposite end of their journeys.”

Ford confirmed that youngster AJ Towse would make his Championship debut on the wing for the Knights, following in the footsteps of Myles Harrison and Toby Warren.

“All three will play,” said the head coach. “I thought the two that played (against Newcastle) were outstanding.

“To play against Championship opposition at 18 in the manner that they did was really pleasing and I’m excited about where they can get to.

“You shouldn’t judge a player against yourself as a player but, looking at Myles Harrison, I wasn’t even making breaks in the academy, let alone the first-team.

“For Toby, who is a month younger than Myles, to play 80 minutes in the back row is really exciting.

“There were things in the game that we highlighted and we’ve gone through. And their attitude is so good. I do expect them to play better this week.

“AJ will come in and he’s spent plenty of time working at his game. I’m looking forward to see him play.”

Towse’s minutes for the Knights were restricted to a brief appearance as an interchange in the Betfred Challenge Cup against Wigan Warriors at the start of the season.

Speaking about his attributes, Ford added: “He’s a big athletic player for 18 years of age and he’s probably the quickest player that we’ve got at the club.

“He’s safe under kicks and there’s many 18-year-old winger who can run like AJ or catch the ball as well as he does.

“That might sound bizarre but I’ve worked with them in the England academy.

“Where he needs to improve is his mentality towards his carries in yardage. That’s a primary job of a winger, to win play one and play two.

“Could he do that in the academy? Yes, he could. But we need him to do it in the first-team on Sunday.”

Having seen loanee Corey Johnson recalled by Leeds Rhinos, Aidan McGowan will start alongside Matty Marsh in the halves.

Wigan’s James McDonnell has also returned to his parent club.

Ford also revealed that Kieran Dixon, Brendan O’Hagan, Morgan Smith, Ronan Dixon and Kriss Brining remain injured.

York: Marsh, Bass, Salter, Atkins, Jubb, Teanby, Clarkson, Scott, Cuthbertson, Stock, Kirmond, Green, Spears, Whitely, Towse, Harrison, Warren, Washbrook, Dow-Nikau, Gannon, McGowan.