LONG-TERM absentees Bailey Antrobus and James Cunningham are closing in on a return to contention at York Knights.

Fan favourite Antrobus has been sidelined since July after rupturing his ACL in a training-ground collision with forward Pauli Pauli, whilst Cunningham’s bad luck with injuries continued in their record-breaking 114-10 victory at dual registration partners Newcastle Thunder at the end of January.

Since signing for the club last season, ‘Mr Fix It’ Cunningham - who can play at loose forward, hooker and in the halves - has endured a stop-start York career, having also been ruled out for the latter part of 2023 after sustaining too many concussions in a select period.

Whilst the pair are closing in on their long-awaited returns, young centre Levi Edwards is a little further behind in his return from an ACL injury.

The Knights snapped up the former Leeds Rhinos talent on a three-year deal ahead of last season, but he has spent 16 months on the treatment table after limping off during their thrashing of Swinton Lions last March.

Asked how the trio were progressing, boss Mark Applegarth joked: “We’ll see over the next few weeks, won’t we!

“But I think we’re there or thereabouts.

“Levi is still managing his knee, but Bailey’s coming back soon – he’s just going through a few markers and things like that.

“There’s Cunno too. He’s coming along nicely and he’s back in training with us now, so I can’t see him being too far off.”

And whilst having more players at his disposal will likely create a selection headache for the newly-instated head coach, that is something that he is relishing.

“There’s troops coming round the corner, but the main thing for me is that it’s that next man mentality,” he insisted.

“It’s an opportunity for someone else to keep that shirt.

“If we carry on how we are, they’ll give me a lot of selection headaches, which is what you want.”