YORK City Knights coach Gary Thornton is fearing the worst for Lee Paterson after admitting the loose-forward's knee injury could be career ending.
Veteran Paterson was helped off the pitch in the first half of yesterday's remarkable game at Oldham, in which the luckless visitors not only suffered a heartbreaking late 31-30 loss but also saw their injury worries mount.
It is thought the 32-year-old dislocated a knee and, although the joint quickly went back in, there is likely to be severe damage to the ligaments.
Asked if it could potentially curtail the player's season, Thornton said: "It could be his career. The worst-case scenario is it's a career-threatening injury. He's 32 going on 33 and if he's out long-term... I just hope it isn't that bad.
"It would be a huge blow. He's been fantastic, a great signing. He's been at the forefront of everything we've done well this year.
"I'm hoping it's not as bad as that but worst-case scenario - it's a massive blow."
Luckless Jack Iley is also facing another potentially lengthy spell on the sidelines after he too limped off yesterday with suspected knee ligament damage. Various other injuries have already made for a stop-start season for the former Featherstone utility forward, who turns 24 next week.
Player/assistant-coach James Ford, another to have endured a stop-start campaign, also came off late on due to cramp in a troublesome calf, while fellow centre Greg Minikin left the ground on crutches after turning an ankle.
It all left Thornton counting up the numbers now on the treatment table.
Second-row Jason Golden's career is in doubt due to his ongoing shoulder problems, while the Knights were also without fellow packmen Iain Morrison, Nathan Freer and Austin Bell yesterday due to injury.
Prop Nathan Harper also withdrew after the warm-up due to illness, leaving Thornton even more short up top, with only rookie prop Jack Pickles, Jack Aldous, who himself had been a doubt due to a hamstring tweak, and loan debutant Brad Brennan available to take on the Roughyeds' big men.
Thornton added: "We were down to 14 fit players at the end. James Ford will hopefully be all right and we'll get Greg looked at. Lee and Jack look like they could be long-term, which is a huge blow."