YORK City Knights boss Gary Thornton reckons there’s more to come from man-of-the-moment James Haynes.
The rejuvenated full-back, who quit the pro game last year to rediscover fitness and form back in the amateur ranks following his injury-enforced year-long absence in 2012, has been named The Press’ man of the match in the Knights’ last two Championship One games.
That took his tally to three such accolades in only five outings this term, having missed the first two games of the season after a freak accident in training.
Thornton revealed the 25-year-old earned his gong in last Sunday’s win over London Skolars despite an adductor strain.
Haynes looks set to sit out this Sunday’s visit of Hemel Stags to rest the injury, but Thornton made it clear the player’s form has made him his first-choice number one - and with more improvement in him.
“He went into the Skolars game with this problem and he was struggling in the last ten minutes or so. That probably makes his display all the more impressive,” said Thornton.
As for the previous win at Gateshead, the head coach added: “His display stuck out.
“He was a rock for us when we were creaking a bit. He led from the back, as it were, rather than from the front.”
There is terrace talk that Haynes is returning to the form that made several Championship clubs sit up and take notice, prior to his injury nightmare, which was caused by a major sciatic nerve problem.
“I’m not sure about that,” said Thornton, when asked if the player was getting back to his very best.
“His footwork is back but maybe he’s a yard off what he was before his injury, which isn’t surprising given his year or so off and the surgery he had. But he’s working on it, and hopefully he can get there.
“He’s improving week by week and his confidence is coming back.”
Dual-reg Castleford youngster Ben Reynolds was pencilled in to play in tonight’s reserves game against Leigh but is now poised to return to the first team in Haynes’ stead.
Thornton said Reynolds deserved his chance but that Haynes could not have been omitted if fit.
“James couldn’t train on Tuesday and, while he will no doubt want to play, we’re getting advice from the physios to give him a week out to get some rehab because, if it tears, it could be more long-term,” he said.
“It’s been tough on Ben, and Castleford obviously want him to play week in week out, but could I justify leaving James Haynes out?”
Meanwhile, Ash Haynes is to make his return in tonight’s second string fixture at Huntington Stadium (8pm).
Back-rower Haynes, a regular reserve-grade academy player in recent seasons, has rejoined the club from Gloucestershire All Golds.
Making his York bow tonight, meanwhile, is Liam Richmond, a 17-year-old second-row from Heworth ARLC, who has been impressing for the Villagers’ first team and training with the Knights’ development party.
Knights reserves (possible): Talbot, Tomlinson, Swift, Craig, Elliott, Morland, Green, Harper, Batty, Pickets, Crane, Farr, Backhouse. Subs: Stubbs, Parker, A Haynes, Richmond.