ASH ROBSON’S injury is seemingly not as serious as first thought, but he is definitely ruled out of York City Knights’ Challenge Cup fourth round tie against Rochdale on Sunday - giving club stalwart James Haynes a route back into the team.
Full-back Robson, the Knights’ star signing from Castleford Tigers, suffered a thigh strain in the first half of the League One win over South Wales and it was initially feared he could be ruled out for up to two months.
But the club are now hoping he will be back within the next few weeks.
Either way, his injury means fan favourite Haynes is in line to return to his old full-back role, his one appearance this season having come at centre in the opening-day League One Cup loss to North Wales.
Head coach James Ford is also likely to field veteran winger Tommy Saxton this weekend after his recovery from off-season surgery, and both he and former captain Haynes, a week before his 28th birthday, give the previously youthful back line some welcome experience.
Said Ford: “James has great mental qualities and a really good understanding of what we’re trying to do here.
“He will have been disappointed not to have been in the team in the last couple of weeks but he now has a good opportunity to be in the 17 and stay there.
“James’ quality has never been questioned and I’m looking forward to seeing him play.”
On former Featherstone and Halifax winger Saxton, Ford said: “He’s got a good chance of being involved. He’s fit and training well.
“He’s vastly experienced and a good communicator on the field and we probably need a bit more of that influence across the back line.”
On Robson’s injury, Ford said: “We’ll assess him in more detail but the intonation from Ash is it’s not as serious as first thought.
“We’ll see how he responds to treatment. We were initially thinking maybe a month or longer but having spoken to him we’re hoping it’s shorter.”
Meanwhile, Ford reckoned Sunday's win over South Wales, when the Knights underperformed before hanging on to a 26-24 victory, reminded him of an 24-16 defeat to another minnow side, Oxford, back in 2014, when Gary Thornton's team went on to top the old Championship One.
"Depending on how you class opportunities, we maybe had between seven and 11 chances that we haven't taken for one reason or another," he reasoned, after reviewing match footage.
"We have a lot of blokes who are new to this level and if they continue to work hard to improve their technique and understanding, they will evolve into a pretty good team.
"It reminded me of a performance a few years ago against Oxford at home, when I was captain and Gary Thornton was coach.
"We made a couple of changes early on with myself and Jason Golden getting injured and we got beat. We created 12 'three v twos' or better which we didn't take.
"The message then when I did the review was that as they get more comfortable and experienced they will take more chances and they will grow. That team did just that.
"This current team as well are doing the right things to create that many opportunities and, as they get more composure and maturity, the scoreline will be more where we want it to be.
"In the first half we weren't far away. We were in control but a few lapses in concentration cost us at both ends.
"In the second half we didn't respond well to a couple of errors.
"You can look at it in two ways. Either we need to be mentally stronger, or you could say that after making so many errors and missing so many chances we've shown guts to win the game, which is a mark of their potential."
Admission for Sunday’s Challenge Cup tie against Championship side Rochdale is £15 for adults, £10 for concessions and free for under-16s.