Injury and illness have threatened to derail Ben Blackmore in recent outings, but the winger has come in for praise after another strong performance against the odds.
The ex-Featherstone flyer has been laid low with a troublesome knee issue in recent weeks, but after getting the all-clear from the specialist, he made a successful return to the side for the crucial victory over Dewsbury Rams.
With the 25-year-old seemingly over his injury, despite his knee being heavily strapped, he was then struck down with illness before Sunday’s success over Barrow.
But Blackmore again appeared on the team sheet, putting in a gutsy showing which earned special praise from his coach Mark Aston.
“We were busted up before the game,” Aston told The Star. “Ben only trained once in the week, he has had tonsillitis. He has been away from the group on antibiotics. He came through and had a massive impact on the game, credit to him.
“The week before I thought he was very good as well. He was disciplined, he talked well, he was positive and he made some really good yards for us.
“The news on his knee was that he sprained his ACL. That obviously could have been a lot worse, it could have been a rupture, and he would have been out for the year. The scans spotted something but it wasn't too serious. It was Ben's call to play against Dewsbury, he pulled through and then he pulled through for us again last weekend.”
Blackmore is a key figure for the Eagles, and Aston knows he will have to manage him carefully over the coming weeks after admitting his knee problem won’t go away overnight.
The versatile operator isn’t the only one putting himself on the line, with hooker Matty Fozard ending the game against Barrow with a strapping around his head after a nasty looking clash in the second-half.
After this weekend’s game at Leigh, there is a break before the start of the Championship Shield fixtures, with the Eagles chief targeting some rest and recuperation for a number of his slender squad.
“Fozzy is a warrior isn't he, he puts his body where it needs to go,” he added.
“Ben has been struggling with his knee again, we'll keep an eye on it. There are one or two suffering with bumps and bruises but we are at the end of the season. You are going to have that. You just have to get on with it.”