YORK City Knights are hoping a knee injury picked up in training by Jack Lee is not as bad as first thought – while fingers are also being crossed that Adam Sullivan will not miss the start of the 2013 season.

Knights bosses are also optimistic that full-back James Haynes will finally come back as good as new early next year after his 12-month injury nightmare.

First-choice hooker Lee pulled up during a session amid immediate fears of serious ligament damage. However, he has been slowly picking up again, leaving boss Gary Thornton optimistic of no long-lasting absence.

Meanwhile, prop star Sullivan, likewise a former The Press Player of the Year, is awaiting news from a consultant over whether he will need surgery, also on a knee problem.

It would be a severe blow to York if either front-row aces were to miss the Championship opener against Dave Woods’ Whitehaven on February 3.

“The problem seems to have settled down a bit,” said Thornton of Lee. “Maybe he tweaked the knee when slipping and it might not be as bad as first feared.

“He’s able to do most of what we’re doing in training. We won’t over-stress him, though.”

Sullivan played through knee trouble last season but has recently seen a specialist, whose report will determine if the 30-year-old needs to go under the knife.

General manager Ian Wilson said: “It looks like he might need surgery but we don’t think it will be anything major. Whether he’s fit to start the season depends on if and when the operation takes place, and we’d hope he could get in relatively quickly.

“We don’t yet know if he needs surgery, though.”

Haynes, meanwhile, has been “making great progress” according to Thornton. The popular full-back finally had surgery in August on the sciatic nerve problem that effectively wiped away the 23-year-old’s entire 2012 season.

His post-op recovery was always going to be a painstaking one, but Thornton is hoping he will be back to his best early in the new season, if not fit enough to feature in January’s friendly outings.

“Whether he’ll be fit for the trial games we don’t know, but I’m really pleased with his progress. Hopefully that will continue and he will step it up well.”

The Knights welcomed Simon Brown and Sam Scott into the fold a fortnight ago, as they joined up for pre-season training. The pair had been given an extended off-season having helped to take Sheffield all the way to last term’s Championship Grand Final success.

Thornton said: “We gave them a couple of extra weeks off – their season didn’t finish until the end of October so it wouldn’t have been right to get them back in in early November. They’re looking good. The quality in training is improving and the intensity of the sessions are increasing.”

That training programme is to take a twist in the next week or two, to keep the players on their toes and re-energised.

Tomorrow, they will be at the Red Goat Climbing centre in Layerthorpe, then on December 11 they will be at Henry Wharton’s new boxing gym in York Road, Acomb, to have a training session with York’s former world title challenger, and on December 15 and 16 they will be on a weekend’s Army camp near Ripon being put through their paces by Armed Forces physical training instructors.