CRAIG Lingard says Keighley Cougars face D-Day over their future next week, after the club’s general manager Steve Gill left for a second time.

Cougars have been allowed by the sport’s governing body, the Rugby Football League (RFL), to sign a squad of 17 players to trialist forms. But the 28-day limit on this ruling, which started on December 11, expires on January 8.

Meanwhile, the club’s future is still uncertain as they remain in special measures and, if this restriction is still in place when the deadline passes, Cougars can only sign one trialist to a permanent contract and will be unable to make any further transfers. Lingard says if they remain in special measures after January 8, they will be unable to train and make sufficient enough preparations for the Betfred League One season, which kicks off at Whitehaven on February 17.

The Cougars head coach said: “The club is still in special measures, we need some movement on that shortly.

“We have 17 ‘first-team squad’ members that have agreed to play and train with us. We have more lined up once we come out of special measures.

“It depends what happens on January 8. We can’t sign players if we are in special measures and then we can’t train them. We would have to decide what we want to do.

“It needs to happen very soon, otherwise there is no point us carrying on.

“We don’t know what is holding the RFL back from taking us out of special measures.

“It’s all unknown at the moment. We have had two really good weeks in training. The intensity and enthusiasm has been great.

“The training has given us a lift, but we want reassurances. I’m trying to stay out of the politics of it all. There are only six weeks until the season starts now.

“Every time you think there is light at the end of the tunnel, there is a 70-tonne truck coming at you from the other way.

“It has been difficult to stay positive at times. It’s not an experience you want to have.”

No representatives from the RFL were available for comment when contacted by the Keighley News.

Cougars were dealt a major blow last week when general manager Gill left the club to join Featherstone Rovers.

While Lingard currently remains at Cougar Park, it is thought Gill’s presence there had been a major influence in the head coach’s decision to return last month.

The pair had both quit at Lawkholme Lane in November following an unpaid wages dispute with players and staff, past and present.

But they returned in December after wages were paid.