YORK City Knights skipper Tim Spears is likely to miss the next five weeks of the Betfred Championship campaign.

The veteran loose-forward damaged a knee in pre-season and, after seeing specialists, will now go for minor surgery next week to clear out cartilage.

He sat out last weekend's hard-fought opener against Toronto Wolfpack and will likewise be in the stands for this Sunday's trip to Dewsbury Rams. After the op, he is expected to need a month of rehab before returning to full training.

It is obviously a blow for the club as they look to find their feet in the second tier, but head coach James Ford is grateful his skipper will not be out for longer, as had previously been feared.

"I think it's pretty positive," said Ford. "To get a player back of Tim's quality, experience and leadership, it will be like signing a top Championship player four or five weeks into the season. It will be a boost.

"We would obviously prefer not to pick up any injuries but it's not as bad as it could have been and I'm grateful it will be a matter of weeks as opposed to anything longer."

Spears is set to miss the games against Barrow, Bradford Bulls, Leigh Centurions and Rochdale Hornets.

Asked if a return date against Halifax on March 17 was the target, Ford quipped: "I think Stanley Gene (legendary PNG player) played a couple of minutes after getting off the operating table, although I don't think that's advisable for most people.

"Tim is a very fit bloke and has shown with previous injuries that he looks after himself to a very high level.

"He will do everything he can to get back as quickly as possible and help the team to progress."

Dave Petersen, who earned a deal this winter following a successful trial at the club, filled Spears' boots at loose-forward against Toronto, and Ford said: "I thought the effort he showed was really good.

"He put his hand up and got through a lot of work for the team. He carried the ball and offered himself for support options coming out of yardage.

"I certainly feel he's got a lot to add to the team this season."

Meanwhile, Ford said he was undecided on whether to alter his line-up this coming weekend.

He warned earlier this week that the last time his team were lauded for a mighty effort against Toronto - stunning the rugby league world in July 2017 by ending the Wolfpack's unbeaten record that year - they followed up with an "awful" defeat at Keighley the following weekend, with the coach admitting he should have made changes.

Asked if that was the plan this week, he said: "I've not decided yet - I'm not ashamed to say it can take me a while to make selections.

"But training-wise, they were good on Tuesday. There was no drop in energy or execution and the blokes' attitude was where it needs to be.

"They're aware their effort was good and that there are areas we need to get better at, but their attitude towards learning and developing was as it has been over the last couple of years.

"I was really pleased with the mindset on Tuesday and that's a positive sign for this week."