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Bradford Bulls blow as things go from bad to worse for Dale Ferguson
Bulls coach Francis Cummins has backed Dale Ferguson to bounce back strongly from the injury setback which will sideline him for several more weeks.
The close-season signing from Huddersfield has been troubled by a persistent back problem and will now undergo an operation before facing a lengthy period of rehab.
The news is another major blow to Cummins, whose pack looks certain to be lighter than ever heading into Sunday’s home clash with the Giants.
Garreth Carvell and Nick Scruton have left the club during the past month and Wigan loanee Greg Burke has returned to the Warriors after suffering a dislocated shoulder at Hull on Friday.
On-loan Huddersfield prop Anthony Mullally is also ineligible to face his parent club this weekend but Matty Blythe is expected to be back in action within the next fortnight after a thumb injury.
Ferguson was hampered by the injury during pre-season and his only appearance for the Bulls so far was in the friendly defeat to Castleford on February 2.
“Dale’s not in a good place,” said Cummins.
“He has come back to training but it’s not working and his back just can’t handle it, so the next course of action will be an operation.
“We’ve exhausted every avenue possible with what the specialists have said and Dale just can’t get going.
“He had a little bit of a back problem last year, so maybe it’s left over from there, but we’ve tried everything with him.
“Dale was one of our big signings and the impact he had on Super League last year was massive.
“It will be this year as well but unfortunately we’re not going to see him for another month or two.
"It’s frustrating for him but he’s not moped around and has been part of the team discussions and such like.
“It’s been a tough time to be at the club but it’s a bit tougher for Dale because he feels like he can’t contribute to the situation.
“But he is contributing and will become almost like a new signing when he comes back.”
Mullally’s one-month loan spell ends after this weekend but Cummins said: “Hopefully we’ll be able to extend that for another month but we’re trying our best to keep him here all year. That’s Huddersfield’s decision.”
James Saltonstall’s loan spell from Warrington has officially ended but he is continuing to train with the Bulls.
Cummins added: “Down the line, he could become our player. We’ve got to work that one through.”
Cummins said yesterday he had a deal in place to sign a prop on loan before the weekend but that it had fallen through.
His search continues, however, and the Bulls coach added: “There is always a prospect of getting someone in but nothing happens quickly.
“If it was my decision I’d have them in by yesterday but we have to go through an administrator, who then has to go through the RFL to sanction it.
“We’ve got little leads on things but until it happens there is no point me getting too excited.”
Cummins, meanwhile, is hoping for positive news on the club’s ownership as all bids must be tabled with Leeds-based administrator David Wilson by the close of play today.
He added: “I had a meeting with the administrator last week and there have been some bigger developments since then which seem to strengthen the prospects further down the line.”
* The Bulls’ home game with Leeds has been brought forward 24 hours to Thursday, April 17 (8pm) and will not be televised.
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