YORK City Knights boss James Ford has warned number one Ash Robson he does not mind who plays full-back come the new season - as long as they're playing well.

Robson has been first choice at Bootham Crescent since arriving from Castleford Tigers a year ago, but he will sit out tomorrow's Ben Cockayne Testimonial away to Hull KR (3pm) due to a minor ankle complaint.

Instead, Cockayne himself, the high-profile recruit from tomorrow's hosts, will take over at the back as he makes his Knights bow. The 34-year-old veteran, who had been expected to play on the wing for this new team but is a proven Super League performer at full-back, takes the armband too as captain for the day.

Ford has always lauded competition for places and he is delighted it exists for such a key role as full-back - adding too that trialist Matt Chilton is another option, especially after impressing with two tries from that position on his Knights bow against the York & District XIII 10 days ago.

Said the head coach: "Ben has played a lot of Super League at full-back and he's trained at full-back with us and has looked really good there and very assured.

"He clearly knows how to play the position very effectively and this is an opportunity to challenge Ash Robson for that jersey."

He added: "It is a key role. It would not bother me which one of those two, or Matt Chilton or a dual-reg player we bring in, plays in that position as long as they play that position well.

"I've made that clear, I keep stressing it. There are high standards at this club.

"Ben is looking forward to showing me he's more than capable of playing that position very effectively."

Asked if he saw Cockayne more as a full-back or winger, Ford said: "I see him as a player with versatility who can play anywhere across the back line with energy, tenacity and ability, and the ability to inspire better of the people around him."

Tomorrow's match is York's second of four friendlies and Hull KR's first of three.

Rovers are expected to field a strong team barring injuries and players reporting back for pre-season late after the World Cup.

Danny McGuire, the Leeds Rhinos legend, is due to make his bow at half-back after his high-profile switch to New Craven Park.

Ford said: "Hull KR are a Super League team. They've got a big squad of first-team players and whatever permutations they field it will be a big challenge.

"They're a full-time outfit coached by Tim Sheens, who has coached Australia and State of Origin - you don't get coaches with better CVs.

"It will be a fantastic opportunity for us to learn and hopefully we can use it as a positive experience.

"We have a lot of young players with aspirations to play at a higher level and this is a chance for them to show how good their ability and potential is.

"We have some older players too who want to show they've still got that ability.

"It all augurs well for a real entertaining clash.

"Hull KR are massive favourites but so were Rochdale last year and so were Toronto (both beaten by the Knights). We will give it a real good go."

Asked if the result was important, Ford said: "It's the performance. We're a little bit further ahead of where we were against York & District, tidying up one or two areas. If we improve and show we're moving in the right direction we will be happy.

"It's about the performance and the little things in a performance. If you're good enough at those little things, generally the outcome is favourable.

"We will be focusing on those little things that make for a good team performance and on the things we're working on in training to show we're continuing to improve."

Graeme Horne, who arrived from Hull KR with Cockayne this winter, will also start against his former team, while fellow forwards Adam Robinson and Joe Porter and veteran hooker Andy Ellis also make their bows this pre-season.

Trialists Chilton, Tommy Saxton, Liam Jackson and Dan Hawksworth play again but Dan Douglas is unavailable.

Sidelined with Robson are prop Ronan Dixon (minor knee complaint), Jake Normington (flu), Jake Butler-Fleming, who has only recently arrived back from Australia, and long-term crock Adam Swift.

Admission to the match is via turnstiles only, to the Roger Millward Stand and the East Stand.

Entry is priced at £12 adults, £10 concessions (over-65s and students) and £5 for under-16s.

Hull KR (probable starting 13): Adam Quinlan, Ryan Shaw, Liam Salter, Thomas Minns, Justin Carney, Danny McGuire, Chris Atkin, Robbie Mulhern, Tommy Lee, Mose Masoe, Danny Addy, Maurice Blair, Ben Kavanagh.

Knights (probable): Cockayne, Saxton, Hey, Batchelor, Mazive, C Robinson, Delaney, A Robinson, Ellis, Horne, Kelly, Scott, Spears. Subs: Chilton, Jackson, Carter, Jubb, Siddons, Rory Dixon, Hawksworth, Porter.