HEAD coach Gary Thornton has admitted he does not know how long York City Knights will be able to keep hold of prop revelation Brad Brennan.

The Knights brought Brennan in on loan from Batley Bulldogs primarily as a stop-gap due to Nathan Freer, Nathan Harper, Austin Bell and Iain Morrison all being ruled out by injury or illness. But he has since been a man-of-the-match contender in both of his two appearances to date, against fellow high-fliers Oldham and Hunslet.

The 20-year-old still has two more games to go of his initial one-month spell - at Gloucestershire All Golds on Sunday and against Gateshead Thunder the week after - yet Thornton has already spoken to Batley about keeping him for the rest of the regular season and indeed the play-offs. The Bulldogs, however, were being non-committal.

"I've had a meeting with Paul Harrison (Batley chief executive). We're going to play it by ear," said Thornton.

"A lot will depend on how Batley Bulldogs go in the meantime. John Kear (Batley coach) is happy for him to stay a bit longer and then we'll see.

"The player needs to be happy as well. He seems happy - he's getting plenty of game-time, which he's pleased about. He played big minutes against Oldham and against Hunslet, and he was delighted to get into the (Championship One) Team of the Week and to get that recognition here.

"He's got two more games and we'll take it from there. We've thrown our hat into the ring. We'd like to keep him here as long as we can."

Much will depend not only on the form and fitness of Batley's current front-rowers but also on how long the Bulldogs can keep hold of big Keegan Hirst following his return to Mount Pleasant on loan from Featherstone.

Additionally, Brennan, a former Warrington academy starlet, has to journey to York from Wigan and travelling may become an issue the longer he has to make that 170-mile round trip.

Thornton also concedes that continued eye-catching performances may see Kear take him back for Batley's first team, or other clubs come in for him.

"John isn't daft," he said. "That's the reason you send players out on loan - to find form and fitness. He would expect Brad to be a standout player at Championship One level.

"That's always the danger with loan players. It's the same with James Saltonstall (on loan from Warrington). If they keep playing well, you'll always get that problem when the parent club sees them playing well and wants to take them back."

Meanwhile, fellow front-rower Harper is likely to be in contention for a recall against Gloucestershire after illness, following on from Bell's timely return to fitness last week. Jake Joynt is also in the reckoning after sitting out the last two matches.

Morrison, who has missed the last six games, also has an outside chance of featuring if he can prove his fitness this week after illness.

Doubts remain over Nathan Freer, following his concussion, and Jack Pickles, who has an adductor problem.

Elsewhere, loose-forward Lee Paterson is making good progress after his partial knee dislocation and could be available for the Gateshead game.

Hooker/back-rower Kriss Brining, who has been out since breaking an ankle against Whitehaven in March, could also return to full training next week.

Full-back James Haynes remains on the treatment table with a knee injury, while there is no news on Jason Golden, who is yet to see a specialist about his ongoing shoulder problem and is still doing the bulk of his training alone with the physios.