YORK City Knights head coach James Ford has labelled the potential return of Matty Marsh this weekend against Newcastle Thunder as “a huge boost.”

Marsh last played for York against Barrow Raiders earlier this month, completing 80 minutes in the Knights’ 24-16 home defeat.

After the game, Marsh was stood down for two weeks on medical advice and as a result missed York’s clashes with Halifax Panthers, Batley Bulldogs and Featherstone Rovers.

Ford has confirmed that the full-back has a good chance of making the squad for York’s clash with Newcastle on Sunday (6.15pm) at Headingley Stadium.

“Matty Marsh has a very good chance of being in the 17 this week which is a huge boost,” enthused Ford.

“To bring a player back into your team of that calibre would be a boost for any team in the competition.”

Marsh was one of six players missing from the Featherstone game, with Will Oakes, Jamie Ellis, Masi Matongo, Chris Clarkson and Bailey Antrobus all absent also.

Clarkson had been suffering from concussion while Matongo and Antrobus missed the Rovers match due to shoulder and hamstring issues respectively, with all three having last played against Batley.

“Clarky (Clarkson) will be back (for Newcastle), he gets his final piece of paperwork completed on Friday,” noted Ford.

“The concussion protocol has been reinforced for obvious reasons. We’re going through that.

“Matongo gets some more information on his shoulder at the back end of this week. Masi won’t be a short term fix.

“Bailey, I’d be surprised if he’s available this week but I think he’ll be available for the Dewsbury game and Ata (Hingano) will be available for the Dewsbury game.

“I’ve said it a couple of times, just around the corner we have a couple of quality reinforcements on the verge of coming back and that fits our strategy.

“We’ve said numerous times this season, we want our best players and best combinations available come the end of the season and we won’t change that.

“That’s the aim, we want to win as many games as we possibly can.”

Ellis had an infection and last featured for the Knights against Halifax earlier this month, but could be included in York’s squad for Sunday.

Oakes, meanwhile, has featured in just one game since May, against Barrow, due to osteitis pubis.

“Jamie is available, he had an infection in his foot which has cleared,” said Ford. “He trained really well on Tuesday, I’m really pleased with his response. 

“Oakes, it’s unlikely (that he will be in the squad). The irritation in his condition, osteitis pubis, he reacted differently to Danny Kirmond. 

“Kirkmond had been out there playing 80 minutes for us on a weekly basis, he’s dealt with it really well and unfortunately Oakes hasn’t. 

“He’s in the hands of the medical team and we haven’t given up on him for the season, but we’ve seen the emergence of AJ Towse and I feel he’s on the verge of a breakthrough year and I’m really pleased with the direction he’s going in. 

“(Brad) Ward is not a million miles behind him, there’s two promising young wingers there.

“Whether Oakes was fit or not I’d still want to give them some opportunities.”

On Sunday, York will be looking to snap a four-game losing streak against Newcastle, falling to a 30-22 defeat to promotion-chasing Featherstone in their latest outing.

The Knights have played the Thunder twice this season, both at the LNER Community Stadium, beating them 42-13 in February and 38-6 in April.

When asked if having played Newcastle two times already this season will matter this weekend, Ford replied: “No, obviously there will be different teams out on the field, different combinations.

“Every game starts at 0-0, irrespective of previous contests. I’ve said that when things have been the other way around, for example, going to Whitehaven and getting our first win, or going to Batley and getting our first win. 

“History doesn’t matter, we have to go there and perform. Newcastle got a draw last week against Dewsbury, and probably felt a bit aggrieved. 

“Dewsbury kicked a penalty goal at the end to get a point after Newcastle came back and got themselves on the front foot. 

“Newcastle probably felt a little disappointed by that and they’ll be wanting to chase some wins before the end of the season. 

“They’re a full time club going in the right direction, but we have to focus on us and maintaining some of the improvements we saw against Featherstone, but then also, there are a couple of clear areas where we want to improve this week.”