JAMES FORD believes that the trial given to Ben Barnard is the latest indication of the "pathway" in place for youngsters at York City Knights.

York announced last week that Heworth prop forward Barnard had joined the club on trial and he was named in the 21-man squad for Sunday's 30-12 Betfred Championship win over Whitehaven, although he did not make the final 17.

Barnard becomes the latest local talent to join the Knights' first-team squad, following in the footsteps of former Heworth quartet Myles Harrison, AJ Towse, Toby Warren and Bradley Ward as well as York Acorn product Joe Porter.

“I think it shows that there is a pathway for young players in the area to come and play for the Knights" said head coach Ford.

“We want York lads in the team. But they’ve got to be good enough and they’ve got to be willing to work hard and show the levels of commitment that we need. These lads we’ve got are, which is great.”

Speaking about teenager Barnard, Ford added: “Ben is a young front-rower who carries the ball with lots of intent and he’s got some ability with the ball as well.

“We think there’s some potential around him and we want to get a closer look at him and work with him and let him see what levels of commitment are needed to be at this level and see where we go from there.”

Ford was without one of his ex-Heworth contingent at the weekend, with the Knights boss revealing that winger AJ Towse, a twice try-scorer in the 38-6 victory against Newcastle Thunder less than a fortnight ago, missed the Whitehaven match through illness.

“AJ was sick," he reported. "He got food poisoning on Thursday and lost four or five kilos on the back of it.

“I spoke to him and said ‘If it was Chris Clarkson or Danny Kirmond, they’d play because they’re experienced professionals and they know how to manage their body’.

“Whereas the young lads we’ve got have got a lot of potential and a lot of promise, but I do believe that we need to put them in and take them out at the right times.

“I don’t think that the right time (for AJ) is off the back of an illness, where he is underweight, lost some strength, a little dehydrated – there could have been some risk around it, so we went for the safety-first option.”

York were also unable to call upon Jamie Ellis and Will Oakes, who are currently absent with hamstring and groin injuries respectively.

“We could have probably risked Jamie to play against Whitehaven but I just didn’t think that was the sensible thing," revealed Ford.

“We harp on about learning lessons from last year and although he was pushing to play, we had to take the decision not to run him.

"We’re hopeful that he’ll be back in training this week and we’ll get a full week of preparation into him.”

"And we’re very hopeful that we’ll get some information on Oakesy (Will Oakes) as soon as possible.

Next up for the third-placed Knights is a trip to Craven Park to face Barrow Raiders, who sit fifth, on Monday night (7.45pm), with the match being shown live on Premier Sports.