BATLEY BULLDOGS half-back Ben Black will miss at least the first two games of the 2014 Kingstone Press Championship season after it was revealed he needs a further operation on his knee.
The former Halifax player, who signed for the club in 2011, had to undergo surgery on his injured knee at the end of the last campaign and has since struggled through the off season.
After missing the Keighley game on Sunday, coach John Kear revealed his stand-off will need to go under the knife to clean his knee out, ruling him out for a minimum of three to four weeks.
The Batley chief said that despite his side’s loss, he expects Black to make a quick recovery.
He said: “He had an operation straight after the season finished and we thought it would be alright, but it has been niggling him all pre-season and he went back to see the specialist and will need to have a clean-out.
“The pleasing thing is, the player who took his place (Jake Connor) did well, so that is pretty reassuring.
“They might play so well that he can’t get back in.”
Black, speaking at this week’s Championship launch event, backed up his coach’s sentiments.
He admitted the setback was frustrating and added: “It is one of those where you can play but it is sore, so it is better to get it done now rather than at the end of the season.
“It will be hard for me to get back in to the squad, we have some good players and missing games is not the best thing.
“If they are performing you can’t change a winning side, so I have to train hard, dig in and hopefully get my spot back.”
However, despite his injury, Black remains optimistic about his side’s chances this season.
The club has set lofty aims, following defeat in the Grand Final last term, and Black is confident they can fulfil them with the squad they have.
“Obviously we can only do one thing this year and that is win the Grand Final and that’s everyone’s aim,” he added.
“People will be looking at us this year because we got to the Grand Final last year, and people expect a tough game against us, which it is going to be.
“You look at last year and nobody gave us any hope and we should have won really, so we are going to keep our heads up and go for it.”
Batley Bulldogs are away at Leigh Centurions on Sunday (3pm) and the supporters club are running a bus to Leigh, which leaves Branch Road at 12.45pm.
The bus will be picking up at the Tapp Rooms, the Commercial and in Birstall, with prices at £10 for adults and £5 for kids.
For further details contact Dave King on 07428 107632.