YORK City Knights will field six newcomers and no fewer than five trialists when they kick off their pre-season fixture programme tonight.

The new-look Knights take on the York & District ARL rep team at Bootham Crescent (7pm), with head coach James Ford set to give 21 players a run-out.

Among the trialists - as predicted by The Press – are York & District stars Liam Jackson, the Heworth half-back, and Matt Chilton, the York Acorn threequarter, who both officially now begin one-month trials with the League One club. Jackson will get a run off the bench but Chilton starts, at centre.

Another is veteran winger Tommy Saxton, the former Hull, Featherstone and Halifax star who has been at York for the past 19 months. Now 34, he is looking to prove he can still “do himself justice” after a “superb career”.

On Jackson and Chilton, Ford said: “It will be great for the young players in the area to see people like Matt and Jacko coming through our environment, improving and playing.

“We will see how they go and how they improve and fit in with our ethos and philosophy.

“But we don’t want to weaken the community game in York. The game is in a good state in York at the moment. There are some good teams. We want to add to it not detract from it.

“We won’t take people out of the community game and stop them playing. If we sign them, we’d want them to play regularly. There are a few things to consider before we make a final decision.”

Saxton has been training again with the team and Ford explained: “Tommy wants another season and we want that too.

“He brings a lot to us on game day and he’s well-liked by the group and the staff. But we just want to make sure we make the right decision.

“We’ve chosen not to rush into it. We don’t want to push him round again if he’s not physically or mentally at the right levels. That’s out of respect for him.

“He’s had a superb career playing for excellent clubs at outstanding levels and we don’t want people to remember him for not being around those levels.

“We’ve decided to see how he goes in pre-season. If we both feel he can play to those levels we’ll sign him and we’ll have a really good player. If we all feel he’s not going to do himself justice, that’s a conversation we’ll have.”

Also starting trials are Dan Hawkesworth and Dan Douglas, both of whom will get runs off the bench.

Prop Hawkesworth was a youngster at Sheffield when Ford was a player there and stood out for minnows Hemel Stags last season. Douglas is a former Wakefield Under-19s prop.

Ford said of the former: “He wants to impress. He’s got a good attitude, a good physique – he’s a big strong athletic thing.

“He can make an impact if he plays like he trains. He’s raw and still learning but it’s a big strong blank canvas.”

On Douglas, he added: “It’s a big step up in my opinion from Super League U19s to York but his approach has been good. I promised him an opportunity and we’ll see how he goes.”

Meanwhile, the six new recruits in the match-day party are teenage former Wakefield winger Judah Mazive, former Dewsbury half-back Brad Delaney, returning back-rower Sam Scott, fellow second-rows Mike Kelly and Jake Normington and former Castleford Academy forward Rory Dixon.

There is no place in this squad for four big names – Andy Ellis and new boys Ben Cockayne, Jake Butler-Fleming and Graeme Horne - who are being saved for the friendlies in the new year.

Knights (probable): Robson, Mazive, Hey, Chilton, Saxton, Delaney, C Robinson, Ronan Dixon, Jubb, Siddons, Scott, Batchelor, Spears. Subs: Carter, Jackson, Kelly, Normington, A Robinson, Rory Dixon, Hawkesworth, Douglas.

York & District squad: Mark Hayes, Joe Deighton, George Elliott (all Heworth), Bobby Smith, Ewen Coverdale, George Hunt (all New Earswick), Liam Watling, Jon Cambridge (both York Lokomotive), Tom Hill, Jack Byrnes, James Bromwich, Jordan Potter, Elliot Bulmer, Adam Endersby, Antony Chilton, Mark Sanderson, Brandon Harris, Matty Downes, Tim Stubbs, Tim Elliott (all York Acorn), Tom Fitzsimmons (Brotherton Bulldogs).