YORK Knights prop Ukuma Ta’ai is “touch and go” to feature against Barrow Raiders on Sunday (3pm).

The 37-year-old was a notable loss for the Knights as they fell to their first defeat under Mark Applegarth against Sheffield Eagles last weekend, having pulled his hamstring against Featherstone Rovers a week previous.

Handed the eight shirt, Ta’ai has rolled back the years so far this season, and had scored in back-to-back games leading up to his injury.

Read next:

Applegarth admits that the club are erring on the side of caution, but that he felt as though the forward was sorely missed last weekend.

“We’re not sure just yet, we’re waiting for his scan results still,” said the Knights boss. “I’m not used to that, so hopefully we can get that done a bit quicker next time! 

“He’ll be touch and go for this week, so we’re just waiting to get that scan result back and see what sort of layoff, if any, we’re waiting on.

“Ukuma, he’s as tough as they come - he’ll play whenever you want him. But sometimes you’ve got to protect players and do what’s right for them.

“He’s got a problem with his hamstring, so as you can imagine, we don’t want to turn something that’s manageable at the moment into something that’s going to be six to 12 weeks.

“We’re playing it with an err of caution, and hopefully we’ll get some good news soon.

“I thought we missed him last week, so if he is available, then he’ll be a nice handy addition.”

Fellow forward Bailey Antrobus is expected to return in the next month from a long-term ACL injury sustained in a training ground collision with Pauli Pauli last July.

The Welsh international was one of the Knights’ star performers in 2023, and after being pictured back on the training pitch, has been steadily ticking off the boxes in his rehabilitation. 

“Hopefully, all being well, he should be three or four weeks away,” explained Applegarth. “He’s been going really well.

“He’s just had another specialist appointment and they seemed happy with him, so we’ve just got to get a bit of work into him and go through the return to play protocols with contact and all that stuff.

“Hopefully he won’t be far off, and I’m looking forward to seeing him go.” 

Fan favourite Bailey Antrobus is likely to return within the next three to four weeks.Fan favourite Bailey Antrobus is likely to return within the next three to four weeks. (Image: Allan McKenzie/SWPix.com)

The Knights boss admits that the road back from injury is often an isolated one, but cannot wait to see Antrobus in action.

“It is a long and winding road sometimes, especially when you get setbacks along the way, which you will do,” he admitted.

“It’s definitely a test of your character and I do think Bailey is coming through that, he’s on the home straight now.

“I’m keen to get him back into the squad because I know he’s a quality player, but at the same time, we’ve got to do what’s right for the player, which we will do.

“Hopefully, fingers crossed, [he’ll return] within the next month.”

Applegarth also confirmed that utility James Cunningham is set to be in contention to feature against Barrow this weekend.

The 30-year-old was named in the Knights’ preliminary squad against Sheffield upon his return from a five-month injury layoff, but instead served as one of the club’s water boys.

“All being well, he should be in contention this week,” said Applegarth.

“We put him in the squad, and he’s been back training now since the first week that I’ve been involved.

“He’s a real good leader in terms of how he speaks and how he conducts himself on the field.

"He’s definitely a character, and my sort of guy that I like in a squad for how he conducts himself. But more importantly, he’s a good, solid player, so he’ll be a welcome addition once he is available.”