Bulls coach Francis Cummins has been dealt a major blow after Warrington loanee Ben Evans was ruled out for the next four months.
The 20-year-old Wales forward joined the Bulls in November on a one-year loan deal but has been troubled by a hip problem which was only discovered following his arrival at Odsal.
Evans, who has yet to make a Super League appearance but played for Wales against England and France during the autumn international series, has had his pre-season completely disrupted because of the injury.
He underwent surgery on Thursday, rectifying a problem that is believed to have affected him for the past few years and could potentially have been career-ending had it gone undetected for much longer.
After assessment from Bradford’s medical staff, Evans was referred to a hip specialist and last week’s operation saw him have a piece of bone removed from the top of his femur.
He also had a tear to his hip cartilage repaired and the procedure has been hailed as a success, although he will be sidelined for the next 16 weeks.
Cummins had planned to use Evans in the front row – a department in which the Bulls are already light on numbers – and the Bradford coach will now intensify his efforts to bring in a short-term replacement.
“It’s disappointing for Ben and for the club because we had high hopes for him this season,” said Cummins.
“However, it’s a problem that needed putting right and he had quite a big operation on Thursday.
“The good news is that it went really well and we have to rehab’ him now and get him right for when he’s able to start playing again.”
It is understood that Warrington are spending up to the salary cap, and therefore Evans cannot return to his parent club, but Cummins is happy to keep him on board during his rehab’ process.
“Ben has been with us for two months and you don’t just turn your back on someone,” said the Bulls chief.
“It’s unfortunate what has happened but it’s about getting his body right for when he is fully recovered.
“Hopefully in a few months’ time we’ll get Ben back but in the meantime we may have to look at bringing in players on month-to-month loan deals.
“The make-up of our squad and the recruitment is an ongoing process and we’ll continue to scour the market.”
Cummins took in the friendly between Leigh and Wigan yesterday as his players underwent CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young) screening at the Institute of Sport in Sheffield.