JAMES FORD is unlikely to pass fit for York City Knights’ trip to arch-foes Hunslet on Sunday – leaving boss Gary Thornton admitting they need to come up with a plan to counter dangerman Danny Maun.
The Knights’ injury worries are easing slightly with half-back Jonny Presley fit again, while prop Jack Aldous is back from his one-match ban.
But centre star Ford, who pulled a hamstring in training ahead of last week’s Championship One opener against Gloucestershire, heads a list of players still on the treatment table, and his absence in particular could be of major concern as they face their first big test of term against the title favourites.
It includes coming up against Ford’s opposite number, Maun, who was a Knights target in the off-season but instead joined the Hawks from Championship grand finalists Batley.
The 31-year-old Ford, as player/assistant-coach, will be involved in planning tactics, and head coach Thornton admitted this was one of several threats they were looking at.
“James Morland did okay on Sunday,” said Thornton of the 18-year-old rookie who made his debut in Ford’s stead. “He’s an option again but then we’re wary of asking too much of these young lads.
“Another option is moving Ed Smith there from the second row. We’ve got some good back-rowers and if we need to counteract Danny Maun, someone like Ed could go in there as he’s a good defender.
“Thomas Coyle is a very good player at half-back for Hunslet and he operates on that left-hand side with Maun, and they attack well down that side.
“We’ll think about it. James (Morland) would do a good job.
“Gloucester targeted that right edge of ours, trying to get at him. He came up with a couple of errors but I was pretty pleased with what he did. He put in a lot of work and made 30-odd tackles. He didn’t look out of place at all, and will only get better.”
Meanwhile, full-back James Haynes is itching to return but is likely to be kept back another week on medical advice, to make sure he is fully fit after the neck injury he picked up in training on the eve of the season.
He had been kept in hospital overnight as a precaution, with tests later showing he had suffered fused discs.
Dual-registered Castleford starlet Ben Reynolds could instead be poised to make his debut, but it was unclear if other dual-reg players will be made available.
The Knights picked up no new knocks on Sunday, but the injury list has already caused them to call off tonight’s planned under-20s reserves match against Featherstone.
Meanwhile, Premiership rugby union outfit Newcastle Falcons are planning to take over the Knights’ Championship One rivals Gateshead Thunder.
The eventual aim is to move them from Gateshead International Stadium, where they will still play this year, into the Falcons’ Kingston Park home.
Former Knights player-coach Paul March, now player-boss at Keighley, has been suspended for four matches for “questioning the integrity of a match official”.
The 34-year-old denied the offence, which occurred during the Cougars’ Championship defeat at Doncaster on February 23, but he was found guilty when he appeared in front of a Rugby Football League disciplinary panel.
Bookings are being taken for the Knights’ supporters’ club coach to Hunslet on Sunday. Phone the club office 01904 767404 or 07443 564453.
The coach leaves Boroughbridge Road (opposite The Ainsty) at 12.30pm, Clarence Street 12.45pm, Huntington Stadium 1pm and York College 1.15pm. The price is £14.