Jay Leary joins Knights on loan from Batley Bulldogs

York Press: Jay Leary joins Knights on loan from Batley Bulldogs Jay Leary joins Knights on loan from Batley Bulldogs

YORK City Knights have bolstered their prop options for a forthcoming "tricky period" by bringing Jay Leary on loan from Batley Bulldogs.

Set to go out of the revolving door at Huntington Stadium, meanwhile, is half-back Benn Hardcastle, likewise on loan.

The Press revealed a fortnight ago that Leary, 22, was on the Knights' radar as they look to cover injuries to front-rowers Nathan Freer, Iain Morrison and Austin Bell, plus the absence of Jake Joynt.

The need for additional front-row force has grown, too, now that Brad Brennan, also on loan from Batley, has been given a two-match ban.

A deal to bring Leary in for a month has now been agreed and he will go straight into contention for Sunday's trip to Oxford. He will also be available for the matches against Oldham, Gloucestershire. These are the only three teams to have beaten York in the league this year.

Said boss Gary Thornton, who previously coached Leary in Castleford's academy: "It's a tricky period and it will be good to have him available.

"It's his second season at Batley but he's struggled to get in this year with the props they've got.

"He was offered on loan and we said we could help out. He's looked all right (in training) and we'll give him a chance to show what he can do."

Leary played 12 times for Batley in 2013 but has only been involved four times this term.

Thornton added: "It's a good time for him to come in with so many front-rowers out or 50-50. It means we don't have to risk them so we know when they come back they will be okay."

Hardcastle, meanwhile, was poised to rejoin former club Gateshead on loan as the Thunder look to cover injuries to half-backs Jamie Rooney and Matty Beharrell, assuming the two clubs come to an agreement.

The 24-year-old has played nine times this year for York, scoring three tries and 34 goals but, given the form of Ben Reynolds and Pat Smith, he has made only appearance since May 11, against Gateshead.

Said Thornton: "Benn was terrific that day but he then had to miss the next match (because of his brother's wedding) and Pat and Ben have been superb since.

"My main concern is for Benn to get playing again. He can go on loan for a month and get some game-time which will be good for him and for us when he comes back."

Gateshead visit York on August 10 but Hardcastle, even if his loan period is ongoing then, will not be allowed to play that day.

Meanwhile, the Knights have been cheered by news from the treatment room.

Injuries to Greg Minikin (shoulder), Jack Lee (knee), Kriss Brining (foot), Colton Roche (knee), Joe Pickets (head) and Ryan Mallinder (arm) are all not as serious as first feared after Sunday's win at London Skolars.

Minikin is the only one set to miss this weekend's match but he is hopeful of returning for the visit of title rivals Oldham.

Freer also returned to training this week after his concussion-related problems, while Bell has an outside chance of being fit for Sunday. The 22-year-old has been out for after badly spraining an ankle in the win over Gateshead on June 15.

Said Thornton: "Nathan will have to have a head test and another week's training before coming into contention, while Austin is making good progress. I'm hoping Iain Morrison isn't far behind too.

"We have Jay Leary in now and we could be getting these guys back for Oldham, which is great for us."

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