CRAIG LINGARD believes his side should already be in the top five as Cougars hope to jump into the League One play-off zone on Sunday.

Keighley head to Newcastle Thunder knowing a victory would put them up to fifth spot on points difference – if York can also do them a favour by beating Doncaster at home.

That would put Cougars in the driving seat with two more Super Eights games left after this weekend.

But head coach Lingard admits his side should already have two more points, which they spurned in a shock defeat at expansion side Gloucestershire All Golds in their second league game of the campaign.

He said: "We are disappointed that we are not already in the five. I said at start of the season when we got beat at Gloucester (46-22) that that game could come back to haunt us.

"It potentially still could. They are games that you’ve got to be winning. I know at the time we were a new team and still learning to play together and Gloucester have got better as the years have progressed.

"But for a team like Keighley, we should be chalking that off as a win and we would be in the five as it stands and it would be a different scenario where we are looking at cementing our position rather than trying to claw it back."

Nevertheless, Cougars – who parted company with half-back Will Milner by mutual consent last week – head to Newcastle very much still in contention after an impressive first half of the Super Eights campaign which was tempered by a poor defeat at Whitehaven last time out.

Lingard agreed that the break during Challenge Cup final weekend came at just the right time.

He said: "Yeah it definitely did. For the last four to five weeks we had people carrying knocks and I think that week off will have done us the world of good, certainly after the performance at Whitehaven.

"People needed to get away for a short amount of time and come back with batteries recharged for the three remaining league games which is the all-important stage of the season."

Keighley head to Kingston Park bidding to make amends for a disappointing second-half display in the 32-12 loss there back in June.

Lingard said: "We need to manage the game better than last time. We managed it well in the first half against the wind and were 14-12 down at half-time and in a really good position to win the game in the second half with the elements at our back.

"But we didn’t manage the game well at all. Newcastle did a lot better than us in terms of dealing with the conditions.

"They are very similar team to teams we’ve played like York and Doncaster. They have a big pack which gives them go-forward down the middle and then they try to exploit the spaces at the edge once they’ve got that roll on.

"We need to deal with the big men in the middle first and foremost and if we do that it should be a lot easier for us."

Thunder are currently bottom of the Super Eights but would go level with Keighley with a win and, together with seventh-placed Workington, still remain in play-off contention.

Lingard said: "They will be fighting for it as much as we will be.

"We’ve got it in our minds that we just need to do better than what Doncaster do and the first thing we have to do is tick this one off against Newcastle.

"If we beat them then they are out of the equation and we’re right back in it again.

"Then the week after it’s Workington and it’s exactly the same – if we win again they’re out of it and potentially we could be in that five already.

"We need York to do us a favour against Doncaster on Sunday. If they do that and then if we win our next two games, that would mean Doncaster have to go over to Toronto in that final game of the season and get a win, which you’d expect to be highly unlikely."

Meanwhile, Lingard said Milner's exit was an 'amicable parting' after the player had found his first-team opportunities limited.

The coach said: "Adam Brook has been playing (in his position) and he broke his toe so it took him a while to get back to fitness after that.

"He spoke to me a couple of weeks ago and said he thinks at this stage it is right that he leaves the club. I've heard a rumour that he is going to play rugby union but I'm not 100 per cent sure if that is true.

"We wish him all the best for the future and unfortunately it didn’t work out this year."