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Key trio poised for comebacks in Knights’ crunch Hunslet clash
SURVIVAL-SEEKING York City Knights are expecting Sam Latus and Kriss Brining to be back to boost the ranks for Sunday’s humdinger against Hunslet – and are holding out hope veteran Adam Sullivan may yet play a part in the battle to beat the drop.
Boss Gary Thornton wants to have as many hands on deck as possible for the final four games of the Kingstone Press Championship – one of the reasons he is not too perturbed by the fact the under-20s can field only two overage players in tonight’s decisive match at Oldham.
To that end, the returns of hooker Brining and threequarter Latus are both timely and welcome.
As for retiring prop Sullivan, he will almost certainly not feature against his former club this weekend but Thornton is praying he will not have to hang up his boots just yet.
“Sam is back in contention and we’re expecting Kriss to be fit,” said Thornton.
“We’re looking at whether Sully will play any future part.
“He didn’t train again (on Tuesday) but we’ve had a chat about whether he can go through the pain barrier and we’re discussing the situation there.
“We’re not sure. I’ve left the decision with Adam himself.
“He’s in pain and whether he can get through a game and what effect it has is the big question.”
Threequarter Latus and hooker Brining missed last week’s loss at Swinton, which dumped the Knights into the relegation zone.
Meanwhile, Sullivan – troubled by a long-standing knee problem which is one of the reasons he is retiring at the end of the season – has missed the last three games after damaging ligaments in his “good” knee in training. Medical staff estimated a recovery period of four to five weeks, which could take him up to the season’s end.
The fear therefore remains he will have to call it a day prematurely and bring the curtain down on a career which has seen him make more appearances for York than any other player since the club re-formed as the Knights 11 years ago.
Said Thornton: “He’s adamant he’s still retiring after this season. How much more pain he can put up with before then and how much further damage he will do to his knees is the question.
“If he puts his hand up to play, he will be in contention. We’ve missed his ability and his size.
“If he does not feel like he could or should play, we will respect that. He’s been a great servant to York and there’s no pressure on him.
“It would be fantastic to have him back in contention but it’s got to be his call – it’s his body and his life.”
Latus’ return is particularly timely as new doubts have arisen about winger Dougie Flockhart’s availability this weekend.
Flockhart – who was at fault for at least one Swinton try and will want to make amends by kick-starting the try-scoring form that made him The Press Player of the Month for July – might be needed by Doncaster RUFC for a pre-season friendly tomorrow.
Doncaster, where the Scot is on a full-time contract, had said he could stay at York until the end of the rugby league season but now have injuries in their ranks.
Meanwhile, Jack Iley and Jack Pickles are the Knights’ only open-age players in tonight’s U20s match at Whitebank (kick off 8pm), in which victory should see James Ford’s young-guns go straight into a play-off semi-final.
The likes of Ben Dent and Brooke Broughton, who, like Iley and Pickles, want to be in the first-team frame, must sit this one out, while trialist Jonny Payne is to revert to playing for Heworth ARLC tomorrow. Livewire hooker Harry Carter is also out with knee trouble.
Knights U20s: from Talbot, Gallacher, Tomlinson, A Dent, Minikin, Morland, Simpson, Pickles, Poulter, Fitzsimmons, Craig, Parker, Iley, Batty, Stubbs, Long, Foster, Green.
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