YORK City Knights captain Ed Smith has been ruled out of action for nine months - the severity of his knee injury finally being confirmed.

However, he is in talks with the club over a new two-year deal to keep him at Bootham Crescent until the end of 2019.

Second-row star Smith, the reigning Press Player of the Year, was helped off the field during the win over Workington last month in the final game of the League One regular season before the Super 8s split.

The club had hitherto stayed quiet about the injury, presumably as it was getting fully assessed, but the worst fears have now been confirmed that he needs major surgery on a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament.

Head coach James Ford nevertheless says the 24-year-old - who after rising through the ranks has played more times for York than anyone else in the current squad - could develop into an even better player on his return to fitness, and that the club were keen to tie him down long-term, even though he will miss the bulk of next year's regular season.

"The club are in negotiations with Ed over a deal for next year and beyond and hopefully we can come to an agreement sooner rather than later," said Ford.

"He's an important player for the team, and we want to show loyalty to him regardless of the injury. There's certainly more improvement in him too - I'm confident we haven't seen the best of Ed."

Asked how important it was for York to keep such a homegrown star on the books, Ford said: "I would love to be able to field a full squad of North Yorkshire-based players who are at the level of Ed Smith.

"I think it's important for both parties. If he wants to continue improving, we're the right fit for each other. He's certainly well thought of at the club by the staff, the players and the supporters, and he enjoys playing for his hometown team.

"Hopefully we can get something sorted sharpish."

Smith, a product of York Acorn ARLC juniors and a former England Colleges captain, was one of the graduates of the club's old scholarship scheme.

He became the Knights' then youngest-ever player when he made his debut in 2010 aged 17 years and seven months, and has since made 141 first-grade appearances, notching 42 tries along the way.

A two-time Press Player of the Year, he was given the captaincy ahead of this season.

He was linked with Super League sides Salford Red Devils and Wakefield Trinity earlier this year but Ford had always said the Knights would offer him a new deal "at the relevant time".

On Smith's injury, Ford said: "The reports are that he's ruptured his ACL. You're looking at nine months' recovery time from the date of the operation, probably a bit shorter in Ed's case."

Elsewhere, Ford will have a largely healthy squad available for the visit of Doncaster a week on Sunday.

Half-back Harry Tyson-Wilson faces another week or two on the sidelines as he recovers from his ankle injury and prop Ross Osborne will probably be out for a fortnight after turning an ankle in last weekend's loss at Barrow.

However, Ford, whose team will be given the weekend off as rugby league largely takes a break for the Challenge Cup final, says everyone else will be fit to train next Tuesday when preparations for the Donny match step up a gear.

The head coach admitted the fact Osborne re-entered the fray at Craven Park, having limped off early on, probably worsened his injury, but reckoned it was worth the risk at the time.

"He put his hand up to go back out," Ford explained. "Getting hurt is part and parcel of being a rugby league player.

"We thought it was worth the risk as we had an opportunity to win the game and Ross was key to that. Unfortunately we didn't win and it has probably worsened the injury a bit but it's not a massive injury."

Having an otherwise healthy squad at this time of the season, Ford believes, is testament to the conditioning staff at the Knights.

He explained: "It's a real boost for the team and it indicates the hard work and good work the conditioning staff and medical team over the full course of the season.

"We work hard at the club and we do our very best to monitor any number of aspects and data to keep injuries down, and I'm thankful I have such a good team behind me who are as efficient and able as they are."