YORK City Knights have suffered a triple whammy on the eve of the new Championship One season.
Strike centre James Ford, the new player/assistant-coach, and scrum-half Jonny Presley have both suffered hamstring strains in training and are set to sit out the Huntington Stadium opener against Gloucestershire All Golds on Sunday.
New winger Curtis Macdonald has also now been ruled out for four to six weeks due to the leg injury – ligament damage near the shin and ankle – that he suffered in the under-20s reserves match against Sheffield. Fellow new winger Josh Nathaniel (ankle) was already sidelined.
Boss Gary Thornton was far from panicking, however, and also revealed he was contemplating a surprise move to fill Ford’s boots.
The club remain well set at half-back, with Benn Hardcastle and Pat Smith already vying for starts, and on the flanks, with George Elliott, Ben Dent and Lukes Hardcastle and Tomlinson in the running.
The surprise option at centre, meanwhile, is teenager James Morland, whose stock has risen in pre-season after his run-outs in the threequarters. His inclusion would mean the Knights start the season with two 18-year-olds in the centres, Greg Minikin the likely first choice on the other side.
“I’ve been really impressed with him,” said Thornton of Morland, the U20s stand-off.
“When he went on for Greg at centre against Sheffield (in the first-team friendly) he went really well. Against York Select he was good too.
“Two 18-year-olds as centres – that would be interesting.”
He added: “I’m not sure he’s ready yet to play half-back at first-grade and I think centre is his best position as regards where he’s at. He’s a big, strong lad with a great physique and very good pace. He’s come on in leaps and bounds.”
The Knights are already without Jack Aldous due to a one-match ban for punching in the friendly against Sheffield, though Thornton is pleased the prop can return for the trip to arch-rivals Hunslet.
“With the category of offence it could have been one or two matches,” he explained. “We asked for some leniency as Jack was not the antagonist.
“Obviously we’d have preferred no ban at all but he’s got a bit of a dead leg anyway and he’ll be back next week.”
In better injury news, Sam Orange’s new knee trouble is apparently not as bad as first feared.
He, along with Nathaniel and Jack Iley (elbow), may be fit for next Thursday’s reserves match as he continues his return from a year out.
Admission on Sunday is £15 adults, £12 concessions and £6 for under-16s. U16s season tickets are available for a cut-price £20, which covers all home and away league matches.
Adult season tickets (£130) and concession season tickets (£105), covering all home league games, are also available from the club’s Roland Court office off Huntington Road, phone 01904 767404.