CRAIG Lingard has branded the Rugby Football League "abysmal" for not keeping him informed of Keighley Cougars' plight amid the uncertainty surrounding the club.

The head coach says he has not had a single phone call from the sport's governing body over the last few months to check on his welfare during the club's unpaid wages dispute.

With just three weeks to go until the Betfred League One big kick-off, Lingard has assembled a squad of up to 25 players and is holding three training sessions per week. But he still doesn't know if his side will start their campaign at Whitehaven on February 17.

Lingard says he has been left in the dark, not only by Cougars' owner Shane Spencer, but also the RFL.

A deadline imposed to allow Cougars to maintain a squad on trialist forms is due to expire on Thursday after it has already been extended twice.

The RFL is set to hold a board meeting tomorrow, where it is believed Cougars' plight will be discussed.

A takeover bid from the team behind Cougarmania, including former chairman Mick O'Neill, was rejected earlier this month. But the Telegraph & Argus and Keighley News understand another bid from them is imminent.

Lingard said: "The most difficult part is that I have had no information on what's going on; from either the owner or the RFL.

"I have not had one call from the RFL for a welfare check. I am quite strong willed and resilient, but there is a duty of care for the RFL to make contact with the club.

"There has been no information from the RFL. It is very disappointing.

"I have had no contact with the RFL on what is going on with the club, I have been left in the dark. Nobody from the RFL has spoken to me about the extension to the trialist forms for players. Something as simple as that, they should have called me up.

"It is abysmal how they have handled this situation. How can they handle it so badly? They don't seem to be interested in player or staff welfare, as I should have got a personal phone call."

An RFL spokesman said: "Obviously it’s disappointing that Craig feels that way – we are grateful to him, and others, for the loyalty they have shown to the Keighley club through what has been an especially difficult winter."

Meanwhile, Cougars' owners have made their first public statement since last November, insisting they are working with the RFL to resolve their struggles.

A statement posted on social media before last weekend said: "We understand we have bridges to build with the community and we are planning work to do this.

"We are working with the RFL to come out of special measures and we hoping this will be solved within the next seven days.

"Once this has happened we will release to Cougar fans and the wider rugby league public our plans to move the club forward."