CRAIG Lingard says he is concentrating on pre-season preparations at Keighley Cougars as talk of a takeover has been reignited.

With just three weeks to go until the scheduled start of their new League One season, some of last year's Cougars squad have stayed loyal to the club, attending training sessions, held on Tuesday and Thursday nights and Saturday mornings since last month.

Players returning to train with Cougars include Benn Hardcastle, Alfie Seeley, Aaron Levy, Davey Dixon, Josh Lynam and Cougars legend James Feather.

Serbian international Jason Muranka, who signed for Cougars from League One rivals Doncaster last November, has stuck by the club despite the off-the-field issues.

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

A takeover bid from the team behind Cougarmania, including former chairman Mick O'Neill, was rejected earlier this month. But the Telegraph & Argus understands a further bid from this group is imminent.

Lingard added: "The squad are just concentrating on the rugby side of things, we are not concerning ourselves with the political side.

"I've just got to keep the players focused and motivated. They have been absolutely fantastic for me. The players are not complaining, they are just cracking on with it.

"We are preparing as best we can. Our pre-season has been cut short by five or six weeks. We are condensing a 15 to 16-week pre-season into nine or 10 weeks.

"We have lost around 16 to 18 training sessions. That is a lot of training time to lose. It is the fitness side of it as well.

"It is not the ideal preparation. We can't organise pre-season fixtures. That means we are at least two games behind everyone else.

"When you are in so deep in a situation, like I am at Cougars, you might as well carry on. There is only three weeks until the end of it and the season starts. The lads are digging in for the next month now and we will try our best.

"It seems pointless downing tools now. I am very committed to the players I have brought in.

"The positive thing is that people want to play for the club. They are as frustrated it is not sorted and want it sorted.

"I have to lead by example as a coach and try to stay as positive as I can."

It has been a horrendous pre-season for Cougars, including controversy over unpaid wages for players and staff, both past and present, general manager Steve Gill quitting and Lingard leaving before he returned last month.

Lingard this week branded the RFL "abysmal" for not keeping him informed of Cougars' plight as the club's crisis dragged on.

RFL chief executive Ralph Rimmer said he was confident Keighley would be in a position to start the season.