COUGARS chief Craig Lingard admitted he was surprised to see his old boss Gary Thornton lose his job at Sunday's opponents Doncaster.

Keighley go into the League One clash at the Keepmoat Stadium one point behind their fourth-placed hosts, who parted company with coach Thornton after they had gone four games without a win.

That sequence included league defeats to Toronto and York, a Challenge Cup loss at Leeds Rhinos and a draw at home to London Skolars.

Lingard, who played under Thornton at Batley and then worked on the coaching staff with him, said: “When Gary took over they had a five-year plan to get out of League One by the end of year three and be challenging for Super League by year five.

“They are in year three now but I feel (promotion) is an unrealistic target when Toronto are there at the top and Barrow as well.

“They are fourth in the table, so it’s not as if they are fourth from bottom. It looks like a bit of a knee jerk reaction to the draw against London Skolars.

“I’ve reviewed that game and the Doncaster winger Aaron Jones-Bishop dropped the ball twice with no one in front of him.

“If he had scored those they might have won and it would have been a different story

“It’s not for me to say, though. It’s their club and their decision to make.”

Pete Green, Rhys Lovegrove and Pete Bell have been placed in interim charge, with Green coming out of retirement to play in their 50-24 win at Hemel Stags last week.

Lingard said: “It makes it slightly more difficult in terms of preparing than what it would have been if Gary was still there as you preview teams based on what they have been doing in previous weeks.

“But we need to get our house in order and making sure we fix up what we need to and carry out the same attacking play we had last week.”