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Knights chief Dave Woods to offer centre Ian Bell one last chance
The Press revealed in October that the 27-year-old’s future was shrouded in doubt when he was given 84 days’ imprisonment after admitting a charge of battery at a hearing at Hull Magistrates’ Court.
That sentence would normally have ended on December 13, but the offence took place while he was out on prison licence having served half of a 12-month sentence for actual bodily harm, putting a person in fear of violence through harassment, affray and assault by battery.
Authorities will not confirm his release date but he is expected to be out in time to play a part in the Northern Rail Cup group stages in February, and, while the club have stressed they need to meet with the player before making any concrete decision on his future at Huntington Stadium, boss Dave Woods suggested in-house discussions have proved positive.
Woods – who intimated his support for the former Super League player last week by giving him the number 17 shirt for 2011 – said: “I know exactly what happened with the last court case and I’m prepared to give him an opportunity.”
Bell, who originally joined the Knights in July 2009, played only twice before the end of that season and did not feature this year until his release, on licence, in August.
He played and scored in the Championship One play-off loss at Oldham the following month – and was offered a new contract for 2011 – but missed the subsequent knockout triumphs following his arrest in his home city of Hull.
Woods said: “We couldn’t fault him for what he did when he was back with us.
“He was training great and did not miss a session.
“He said he wants to get away from Hull and if we can help to give him that opportunity and he can do that, then that’s great.”
However, Bell has had a chequered past and Woods said: “It’s probably his last chance. His circumstances would have to be taken into consideration but he’s not likely to get many more opportunities.
“If he does something we think is wrong or not good for the club, then that will probably be it. If he doesn’t do anything wrong, then we would support him.”
Bell, a former Hull, Hull KR, Barrow and Featherstone dangerman, has starred at Championship level before, and Woods was confident he could do so again should he focus on his rugby. The player has also been training while in jail.
“Just from what I saw of him this year, he’s got ability, no doubt,” said the coach. “If we can do some work with him I’m sure he will pick it back up pretty quickly.”
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