KEIGHLEY Cougars' head coach Craig Lingard has highlighted the versatility of close-season signing Dan Parker, and hopes that he will become a vital first team player in the months to come.

Parker was given a chance in Cougars' last match against Coventry Bears, a huge 98-6 victory, and he grabbed his opportunity by scoring a fine second-half try.

With Josh Lynam sidelined with a broken arm, Parker may be given an extended run in the starting line-up, and Lingard said: "He is really important and with Josh out, he'll slot straight into the right-hand side of that back row.

"He's really comfortable alongside Benn Hardcastle in there, as they used to play together at Newcastle (Thunder).

"But Dan covers a lot of positions. We moved him into loose forward when we brought Cameron Leeming on against Coventry and when he was at Newcastle he played on the wing, in the centre and at half back.

"He played in the reserves on Friday at Halifax to get some game time and he played at stand off there. He's got real utility value for us and he's a great guy to have on the bench or in the starting 13."

Despite signings like Parker coming into the club, there have been some outgoings too and Cougars were rocked by the announcement that long-serving chairman Gary Fawcett is to leave the club at the end of this month.

From a personal point of view, Lingard was full of praise for Fawcett, saying: "He's been really good to me. He gave my first head coaching opportunity and I'll always be thankful for his support in my time here.

"I know he's had his critics but you're not going to please everybody. Some people will be happy that he has gone, some will be disappointed, like me.

"The work he's done behind the scenes in the last couple of pre-seasons, such as getting players signed on, speaking to them and their agents and dealing with the financial side of things has been invaluable to me. I'll really miss him.

"We're in a bit of limbo in terms of not knowing who's going to come in and replace him but we've just got to deal with what we can control and that's what we do in training and on the pitch."

With Cougars not playing last weekend, Lingard was grateful to be able to spend time with his family, but he is now fully focused on their tough away test against North Wales Crusaders.

He is keen for them to avoid a repeat of their Challenge Cup clash in February, lamenting: "We were winning comfortably at half-time and then they came back and scored 20-odd points in the second half to beat us.

"I'll be very disappointed if the lads turn up there just expecting to win given what's already happened to us this year and how well North Wales are playing, with them beating Whitehaven last time out."

Victory in Wales could see Cougars move into the top four of Betfred League One.