Hospital hitch gives Eagles boss a headache

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SHEFFIELD Eagles’ build-up to the new season has been hit by a delay in operations needed by two key players.

Forward Mitch Stringer and utility man Dane McDonald both need shoulder surgery but will not go under the knife until early in the New Year.

It means the pair will still be in rehab when the season kicks off in February and could be sidelined for the first six weeks.

For Scottish international prop Stringer it will be his second op in three months following knee surgery.

Coach Mark Aston said: “Mitch is recovering pretty well (after the knee op) and his shoulder just needs a bit of a clean out. He should have the op at the beginning of January. Dane should have his op at about the same time. If Mitch and Dane aren’t ready at the start they will be by March or April. We have a real strong squad this year to help us handle problems like injuries.”

Both players ‘carried ‘the injuries during the final weeks of last season as they helped the Eagles to their first Championship Grand Final appearance.

Australian half-back or loose forward McDonald recently signed a new one-year contract at the club.

He said: “The shoulder op is delayed until January – that’s the earliest they can get me in. It’s keyhole surgery to repair a tear to the left shoulder.

“Unfortunately I will miss a few games but I’ve got to get this fixed and make sure that I’m right. I’ve been carrying the injury for about six months.”

Meanwhile, back-row forward Alex Szostak and hooker Andrew Henderson are back in training after being given time off following playing for Scotland in the autumn internationals.