AFTER a six-year gap, Keighley's finest amateur players will once more step out at Cougar Park on Sunday (2.00).

The resurrected contest against their semi-professional counterparts at Cougars is at the instigation of new coach Craig Lingard as the League One club bid to form a better relationship with local amateur sides.

Former Keighley Town coach Daz Lynam, who is coaching the Keighley Select XIII alongside Cougars Hall of Fame member Keith Dixon, said: "It is a great chance for the amateur players, such as Jack Kennedy, Alfie Seeley and Joe Copperwaite, to show what they can do."

Seeley and Copperwaite, who both used to be on Cougars' books, have been playing rugby union for Keighley this season, while Skipton RUFC duo Jamie Donnelly and Luke Smith should also get their opportunity on Sunday to show their worth in the 13-a-side game.

Lynam, father of Cougars player Josh, said: "We hope to take 25 to 28 players to Cougar Park as we don't want to leave anyone out who have been training with us.

"By the time the game comes around we will have had at least four training sessions, including last night, and we might sneak another one in on Saturday morning."

The players have been mainly drawn from three amateur rugby league clubs – Keighley Albion, Worth Village and West Craven Warriors.

Lynam also spoke about the perils of the Pennine League, which is now reduced to 48 teams, eight of whom, including Worth Village and Cowling Harlequins, are playing in an 11-a-side division.

He said: "The Pennine League is in decline.

"It isn't like 15 to 20 years ago when I played in it and Keighley Albion and Worth Village were in either the Premier Division or the First Division.

"It has been affected by both summer rugby and players choosing to play union."

The Select XIII have suffered some heavy defeats in the past at the hands of Cougars in the Peter Fell Memorial Match such as 60-0 in 2011, 78-4 in 2010 and 62-12 in 2009.

The Pennine League players have not only suffered by facing semi-professional players, but have also been handicapped because they might have also played a league match the previous day.

Dixon, who has queried the worth of the Cougars v Select XIII match in the past due to its one-sided nature, also spoke of his fears about link-ups between amateur clubs and semi-professional or professional clubs in general, saying: "It has to work both ways.

"There is no point say, for example, Wakefield Trinity taking a top amateur player and for the amateur club not to have any recall if the amateur club wants that player to come back and play an important cup tie.

"If that happens, what is the amateur club getting out of it?"

Meanwhile, Cougars chairman Gary Fawcett has called on supporters to turn out in force for Sunday's clash.

He said: "Local clubs have been issued tickets that they can sell for the match and they will keep the money.

"For rugby league in Keighley, I would encourage the public to come down and support as it will help the amateur game."

Lingard is keen to establish a pathway between Cougars and grassroots clubs through which promising local talent can be unearthed. He is keen to meet with local coaches with a view to setting up workshops.

Fawcett said Cougars' system puts them in a good position for developing youth.

He said: "The set-up we’ve got down at Cougars is unusual. No other League One club really has what we’ve got in that we have academy, reserve and first teams. We are geared up towards developing youngsters and always interested in them."