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Houston relief as Knights ace plots comeback
FRUSTRATION is mounting for sidelined forward James Houston – but he has his fingers crossed his campaign is not over.
Having been a virtual ever-present for the first half of York City Knights ’ season, the former Hunslet and Featherstone packman has missed the last seven matches due to problems connected to a worrying lump on a thigh.
A day before his former club, Rovers, come to Huntington Stadium, the 29-year-old, has admitted some mixed feelings – relief that the lump is “very unlikely” to be cancerous but annoyance it has continued to keep him off the rugby field. But he remains hopeful he will don the shirt again this term.
“It’s something I’ve struggled with all year and it got to the point where it was impossible to train let alone play,” he said. “It’s been very frustrating from the start. It’s been a difficult time. It’s pretty annoying.
“When they started talking about it being a lump on the bone, it was pretty worrying, but they were pretty quick to say they didn’t think it was anything ‘bad bad’. It’s not 100 per cent yet but it’s still a relief they think that.”
Houston’s one-year deal at York ends this autumn and, while initial talks about staying in 2013 have taken place, he is not yet thinking about next season.
He added: “Ideally I would like to play again this year before sorting out what happens next year.
From Back Page “I’ll have to see where I stand but I haven’t thought about next year. I just want to try my hardest to get back on the field this year.”
The results of an impending operation will determine whether the player gets that wish.
He is hoping to go under the knife in the next fortnight and expects to be back on the field two to six weeks after that. The Knights have three games left after tomorrow’s clash, the last of which is against his other former club, Hunslet, on September 2.
“Depending on what it is, I could be back in two to six weeks,” he said. “There’s a chance I might get a game again this year - it depends on the extent of what’s wrong.
“They’re pretty sure it’s not cancer and they’ve said there are probably two possibilities. Either it’s an infection in the bone, which is the worst-case scenario as that would need antibiotics and would take a while, or it’s a benign tumour, which means I’ll be able to play again pretty quickly once it’s taken out and the wound’s healed.”
It’s the first time since his early 20s that Houston has spent a lengthy spell on the sidelines, and it’s symptomatic of the Knights’ troubled season.
As reported by The Press, their woes worsened at the weekend when dual-reg scrum-half Ollie Olds suffered knee ligament damage while playing for Leeds Under-20s, to be ruled out for the rest of the season.
The Knights were already down to the bare bones, so much so they looked into bringing back Ben Johnston on dual-reg from Castleford now the York-born scrum-half has returned to training. However, with the transfer deadline long since passed, they would not be allowed to re-register him, despite the extenuating circumstances.
Johnston had been on dual-reg at York in May but only played three games before breaking a thumb, since when Danny Nicklas and Olds have been and gone as half-back partners for player-boss Chris Thorman.
The ranks as a whole are so depleted that no fewer than nine under-18s players have been named in the provisional squad of 18 for tonight’s reserves match at Featherstone (8pm), the last of a winless Reserve Championship campaign.
That nine include four reserve-team debutants in Greg Minikin, Matt Brewer, Liam Ellis and Josh Poulter. The U18s team ended their own good mini-season last week.
Knights reserves: Poutney, A Dent, A Haynes, Minikin, Law, Hannigan, Brewer, Baxter, Stearman, Carter, Thorpe, Bridges, Parker, Ellis, Poulter, Fitzsimmons, Fraser, Howard.