Eagles ace cleared to start season

Michael Knowles does not need surgery on his injury
Michael Knowles does not need surgery on his injury
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Sheffield Eagles have been boosted by a decision that Michael Knowles won’t be joining the queue for the surgeon’s knife – just yet.

The back row forward, who scored 11 tries as the Eagles claimed a second successive Championship title, has been cleared to start the new season.

Knowles was troubled by a knee problem during 2013 but has been told he can play on.

“I’ve seen a specialist and he says it’s manageable so I can play which is good news,” said Knowles. “The knee is a bit of a worry but we’ll see how it goes.”

It’s a major positive with experienced forwards Alex Szostak and Liam Higgins needing operations and long periods of rehab.

Prop Higgins is unlikely to play next season after major knee surgery. Szostak needs a shoulder operation and his loss will leave the back row cover looking thin.

Prop Eddie Battye(foot) and back rower or centre Duane Straugheir (groin) are making progress after surgery but look set to miss the kick-off against Rochdale Hornets at Owlerton Stadium on Sunday February 16.

“Duane has been in, the doctors found a bit of a problem but sorted it and he needs time off and then start rehab,” said assistant coach David Larder.

“We don’t know if he’ll be right for the start of the season. It’s not massively long-term and he’ll be on the field sooner rather than later.

“Eddie has started his rehab and we’ve got some young kids showing up well in training who will get their chance.”

The growing injury list increases the pressure to get new signing Lelauloto Tagaloa over from Hawaii. The 6ft 3in tall centre - nicknamed Loto – has been given a two-year deal after impressing for the USA in the recent World Cup but needs a visa to play in the UK.

Coach Mark Aston is due to link up with the squad after his break in Australia when training resumes on Friday night.