HEAD coach James Ford says York City Knights remain in negotiations with reigning Press Player of the Year Ed Smith over a new deal - though it is unclear how close they are to reaching agreement.

Home-grown second-row star Smith is still awaiting surgery on his ruptured anterior cruciate ligament, an injury which will rule him out for the bulk of the 2018 regular season.

The club have also strengthened in the back row, having yesterday announced the capture of former Knights Player of the Year Sam Scott from Sheffield Eagles while also retaining Joe Batchelor - who is a contender for the 2017 Press Player of the Year at tonight's presentation ceremony at York Racecourse.

Youth international Rory Dixon has also arrived from Castleford, much-improved second-row-cum-centre Brad Hey is tied down, and further new signings are expected soon too.

Smith's long-term future at the club, therefore, could seem in doubt. However, Ford says they are very much still talking.

"The club are still speaking to Ed and we're hopeful we can get something resolved," he said.

"Ed has been a big part of this club and he has always played well for me."

Smith, 24, The Press Player of the Year in 2015 and 2016, who was made club captain by Ford ahead of the 2017 campaign, injured his knee in the last game of the regular season in July, prior to the Super 8s. It was confirmed in August that his season was over.

The Press revealed then that a two-year deal to keep him at Bootham Crescent until the end of 2019 was being discussed - but it remains to be seen if agreement can be reached.

"I've got a lot of admiration for him as a player and a person," added Ford. "It (a deal) just has to make sense for everyone concerned."

Smith, who turns 25 next month, has played more times for the club than any other current player, after making his debut in 2010 as the Knights' then youngest-ever first-teamer, aged 17 years and seven months. In all he has made 141 first-grade appearances, notching 42 tries along the way.

Ford said back in August that he reckoned the former York Acorn junior - a product of the Knights' old scholarship scheme and a big fan favourite - could become an even better player on his return to fitness next year.

He had reasoned: "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.

"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.

"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."