KEIGHLEY Cougars head coach Craig Lingard says he may be forced to "cobble a team together" for Sunday's clash at Hemel Stags after three first-team stars left as the club's financial crisis continues to bite.

The Cougar Park club revealed it just avoided going out of business after players' contracts had been met, their bank balance stood at just £34.23.

It is also looking to raise £45,000 to see the club through for the rest of their season in Betfred League One.

Cougars' plight has already impacted on the first-team squad after Matty Beharrell, Josh Tonks and Adam Ryder all quit the club.

Lingard fears further departures as his eighth-placed side continue to battle for a play-off place in League One.

Depleted Cougars crashed to a 28-14 defeat at Whitehaven on Sunday, their second successive league defeat, which included a brace of tries for Benn Hardcastle.

Lingard, who continues to have the support of Cougars' chiefs Neil Cullen and Simon Harrison, revealed he was told about the club's financial situation before Friday's official announcement, which has affected his training plans for matches over recent weeks.

Now he is unsure of his squad for this Sunday's trip to second-from-bottom Hemel Stags and fears further player departures in the build-up.

Lingard says the club's situation will also give an opportunity for first-team action to his fringe players.

He said: "I'm not sure which players, if any more, are going to leave.

"It's difficult to plan for the game at Hemel Stags at the moment. We have to deal with players leaving. I may not realise until Friday the team I have and may have to cobble a team together.

"Over the past four to six weeks we have not had the best preparation for games.

"We made a lot of basic errors, about nine to 10, against Whitehaven. There were a lot of people playing out of position there. We had to field a scratch team almost.

"The togetherness shown on Sunday was really good.

"Adam Ryder played his last game for us at Whitehaven. He is going to a Championship club. His loss will impact us massively. We are going to have to cope.

"The situation will also mean some of the players might be putting themselves in the shop window for a move next year by playing well for us in the meantime.

"We will have to make do and mend.

"This has certainly impacted on us, with Josh and Matty going too.

"It has been an eventful few weeks for us, all this has not just happened overnight. It has been going on behind the scenes for a few weeks.

"It is disappointing for us. Neil (Cullen, Cougars' chief executive) and Simon (Harrison, commercial director) are trying as hard as they can and working hard behind the scenes.

"I have known about it for quite a while behind the scenes."

Lingard also called for the people of Keighley to back the side and boost numbers for home games, starting with their clash with Oldham Roughyeds on Sunday, July 15.

In its official statement on its plight, club directors said it is looking for an extra 400 people to come through the gates at Cougar Park for Cougars' five remaining league matches of the season.

Lingard added: "We need the community of Keighley to get behind the team, we need people through the gates.

"People want a successful team to watch, but to help with that we need spectators to generate funds by coming to watch us.

"It would be great if we could get this £45,000 but that's just a short-term fix. We need the spectators coming through the gates all of the time. We need them week in, week out."

Anyone wanting to get involved in the club's campaign for funds is asked to e-mail, go to or call Garry Schofield at the club on 01535 606044.