JONNY PRESLEY'S playing days are "probably" over - handing York City Knights a blow in the build-up to the play-offs.

The veteran half-back suffered a broken metacarpal in last week's defeat at Whitehaven and, while the club initially kept the injury under wraps, it has now been confirmed he underwent surgery on Tuesday, meaning he won't play again this year.

However, the player/assistant-coach remains involved on the sidelines - and reckons the current squad are not only better than any he has been involved in at York but can also yet bag an unlikely promotion.

Presley, 33, had planned to hang his boots up last winter when joining the coaching ranks, but he staved off retirement and, as a back-up playmaker, has featured 10 times this term, scoring four tries - his last coming at Whitehaven, when he played the full 80 minutes despite the injury.

Boss James Ford believes Presley could go round again but the player himself said: “It probably is (the end).

"It’s been well documented that I planned to retire after last season. I need to have a conversation with my family and then I will have a conversation with James regarding next year.

“It’s not the best time to make a decision such as that so soon after suffering an injury because of the emotion involved.”

Presley, in two spells at York (2011, 2013-present), has made a total of 125 appearances, scoring 47 tries. He has also played for Featherstone, Keighley and Australian side Fremantle.

“I can honestly say without hesitation this is the strongest squad the Knights have had while I've been a player here," he said.

"The potential of this team is massive, which is evidenced by the stunning wins over Toronto and Rochdale.

“I'm excited about what could unfold for this club in the coming weeks, months and years.”

The Knights, despite starting 2017 on the back foot after last year's crises, earned a League One play-off place with two games to spare of the Super 8s.

The last is at home to Newcastle tomorrow (3pm) before they face a promotion semi-final next Sunday, probably back at Whitehaven.

“I've thoroughly enjoyed playing with this team, and seeing the development of the players over the season has been great," said Presley.

“Regarding dipping my toe into coaching, the players have been really supportive and I've learnt so much from Fordy and the rest of the coaching team.

“Considering where we started as a club and how that impacted on our inconsistent form at the beginning of the year, I think making the play-offs has been an over-achievement and something the whole club should be very proud of.”

He added: “If I do retire I'd like to stay involved in the game and I am passionate about developing as a coach but also the player welfare side of the game.

“But again I plan to speak with my family and with James regarding next year in due course."

When asked about career highs, Presley said: “I think whenever you reach a final they are certainly highlights, so I'd say winning the (National League One) Grand Final with Keighley in 2009 and reaching the League One Cup final with York last year were two games I'll never forget."

Ford, meanwhile, has hailed Presley's career, not least his development in recent years - and says he still has a vital role to play.

The diminutive scrum-half was previously more of a running half-back - an ability which saw him destroy inferior teams, as highlighted by his club best six tries in a match in the Knights' record-smashing 132-0 Challenge Cup rout of Northumbria University in 2011. But he has matured under Ford into more of a game-managing schemer.

Said the head coach: "I personally think he could continue playing, but it's whether Jonny wants to.

"He can look at his career on the whole and be very proud.

"He was highly regarded at Featherstone as a youngster and at Keighley too, and he had that time in Australia.

"He's had to overcome some barriers, which shows he's got resilience.

"He's changed his style of play over the last few years and, for me, he's played some of his best rugby. It shows he's got a fantastic attitude.

"I'm quite proud we've seen him improve as we have.

"He selects his plays with a bit more thought and intelligence and has developed game-management, which brings consistency to a team. You can plan five minutes in front when Jonny's on the field as he'll replicate what we've practised and you can build performances and grind out results.

"He doesn't try to score every time you have the ball like many academy half-backs, but is a composed, mature player.

"He's played well this season. His role in the squad this year has changed but he's filled it really efficiently."

As for losing him this term, Ford said: "I'm disappointed, as a coach, as Jonny is important to us.

"He's stepped in a number of times and brought us experience and guidance on the pitch.

"The good thing is we have Liam Harris back and Harry Tyson-Wilson is fit again, and we'll have Ash Robson back shortly too.

"Jonny's also still got a role to play in what we're aspiring to achieve."