HEAD coach James Ford insists he has picked his strongest possible side for York City Knights' 1895 Cup quarter-final - after making nine changes to the line-up that beat Swinton Lions on Sunday.

The Knights, flying high in the Betfred Championship, host Batley Bulldogs tomorrow night (7.30pm) knowing victory would leave them 80 minutes away from a Wembley final.

Ford's team selection suggests the league campaign - and an unlikely play-off push - remains the club's priority, but he has already outlined a desire to take his players to the national stadium and has argued the 17 on midweek duty are more than capable of getting there.

The most notable change is the return to action of Matt Chilton at full-back for his 2019 bow and first-ever game at Championship level, having hitherto been sidelined by a knee injury suffered in pre-season.

Answering questions about fielding a seemingly weaker line-up, Ford said: "I think I've picked my strongest possible team.

"We played on Sunday - we had a tough game on a very large field. I've picked what in my opinion is the strongest side for this game."

Of the plentiful changes, he reasoned: "First of all we've got an array of talented players who are fully fresh and ready to come into the side and play to a very high level.

"A few boys have also picked up little knocks - Matty Marsh, for example, suffered a dead leg in the first tackle of the game against Swinton - and we need to rest a few blokes.

"Three games in a week will be a lot to ask from Graeme Horne, Sam Scott and Tim Spears, and we've got quality players to come in."

While Liam Harris has passed fit to continue in the halves alongside Connor Robinson, who makes his 100th career appearance, there are four changes to the back line that took on Swinton, with Marsh, Jason Bass and Perry Whiteley rested and Cam Scott cup-tied having played in the last round for Doncaster against Oldham.

In come Chilton, Hull KR loanee Will Oakes, Brad Hey and Judah Mazive.

Former York Acorn amateur Chilton scored five tries in five appearances at the end of last term after signing on transfer deadline day - including two touchdowns in the League One title-sealing success over Whitehaven - but in January he was hit by a posterior cruciate ligament injury.

Ford said of the 22-year-old: "He's had some adversity and there was some confusion around his injury but he's dealt with it really maturely and over the longer term this will help him become a more resilient man.

"I'm pleased he's got through it. He's trained to a good standard and I'm pleased to give him his first match against a Championship team."

Asked if the youngster - untested at this level - looked the part in training, Ford said: "He always looks the part.

"He reminds me of a young Richard Whiting (former Hull star) who I played with at Featherstone. He's tall, rangy and quicker than he looks and has lots of class.

"I'm confident he has the ability to kick on and become a really good player as long as he works hard at his game."

In the pack, battering ram Jack Teanby along with veterans Horne, Scott and Spears get to rest up, while hooker Andy Ellis, who recently answered an SOS to return to the club, is unavailable.

In come Jack Blagbrough, Mike Kelly, Joe Porter, Leeds loanee Tyler Dupree and hooker Harry Carter.

On the latter, Ford said: "Harry gets an opportunity again. He's had to wait a little bit - he's had some frustrating little setbacks but he's dealt with them pretty well and I'm looking forward to seeing him play."

Batley utility back Tom Hemingway, in his third spell with the club, has retired on medical advice.

Knights (probable): Chilton, Oakes, Salter, Hey, Mazive, Harris, Robinson, Blagbrough, Jubb, Baldwinson, Jordan-Roberts, Kelly, Porter. Subs: Carter, Dupree, Dixon, Stock. Stand-by: Brown, Spears.