JAMES FORD has insisted that Brendan O'Hagan is not injury-prone as he recalled the half-back to his 21-man squad to visit Whitehaven on Sunday (3pm).

O'Hagan has played just one of York's first six matches so far this season - the Betfred Championship win over Dewsbury Rams - as he recovers from an off-season hip operation and a minor calf issue.

The Australian is back in the Knights squad for Sunday's Betfred Challenge Cup tie at Whitehaven as he competes for a starting spot alongside this season's regular halves Liam Harris and Jamie Ellis.

Explaining O'Hagan's injury situation, Ford said: “First and foremost, I think that Liam and Jamie are playing really well.

"If Brendan was 100 per cent fit and ready to go this week, if would be a tough decision because how good a player Brendan O’Hagan is.

“But I also know how good Liam Harris and Jamie Ellis are and how well they’re playing.

“Brendan O’Hagan had a minor calf issue coming off the back of the Dewsbury game, so that’s why we pulled him off and finished with 12, to protect him.

“Then we gave him a week off to help it settle down then we’ve slowly increased his load in training. There’s some straight line stuff, some change-of-direction stuff, some contact stuff.

“Then he’s got to get back in and do rugby stuff. And playing and training in rugby is slightly different from running around cones.

“Brendan is on a programme to get him back ready, so that when we do get him back, not only does he excite us with his abilities in leadership, but he’s there for the duration of the season.

“We’re trying to build some robustness and resilience into him. It doesn’t mean that he’s injury prone.

“What it means is that I’m not selecting him, so if anybody has got a problem with it, then it should be aimed at me not Brendan.”

O'Hagan's return is one of four changes to the York squad for the trip to West Cumbria. Returning prop Joe Porter is back, fresh from agreeing terms with the Knights until the end of the season.

Youngsters AJ Towse and Bradley Ward are also named by Ford, following their appearances in the last round of the Challenge Cup against Newcastle Thunder.

Forwards Danny Kirmond, Kriss Brining and Toby Warren drop out alongside cup-tied Leeds Rhinos loanee Levi Edwards.

Back-row Pauli Pauli remains suspended while winger Olly Butterworth is still out injured.

York City Knights squad: Marsh, Brown, Glover, Ogden, Oakes, O'Hagan, Ellis, Matongo, Jubb, Teanby, Clarkson, Thompson, Davis, Dixon, Stock, Harris, Harrison, Towse, Michael, Ward, Porter.