NOTHING to lose and everything to gain is Craig Lingard's message ahead of Keighley Cougars' huge Challenge Cup clash with Bradford Bulls.

Cougar Park is expected to be packed for the visit of John Kear's Championship side this Sunday (2.45pm kick-off).

Cougars warmed up for the tie with a late 24-22 win over North Wales Crusaders last Sunday. The home victory further dented Cougars' pre-season points deduction, reducing it to -7.

Meanwhile, Cougars face a Bulls side starting to settle into life in the Championship following their promotion. They are seventh in the table after winning four of their first eight games, including a 26-12 triumph over Leigh Centurions at Odsal last Sunday.

Lingard said: "It is hard not to see ourselves as underdogs on Sunday. They are in the Championship and a full-time team. Our team is relatively new. Bradford have spent more than us this season. That's just where we are.

"We will go out there and enjoy it and rip it up.

"Bradford are a better team than we played last year. We have absolutely nothing to lose.

"If we won, it has the makings of a really good cup story. We are playing our neighbours and our local rivals.

"It's a different competition, but our focus is fully on the league. It gives us a break from the league and is something completely different to focus on. There is a really positive vibe around the club. We are really, really hopeful for a bumper crowd.

"My players are relishing playing in front of a vocal support this season.

"Anybody who plays sport wants to play in front of a big crowd. All of our players have not played in front of such a large crowd as there might be on Sunday. But the Bradford players are used to that.

"Our ground is a little bit different. It is an old ground where the supporters are right on the fences."

Lingard, 41, added he was looking forward to coming up against his coaching mentor Kear on the touchline on Sunday.

The pair spent four seasons together between 2013 and 2016 at Batley Bulldogs when Lingard worked as Kear's assistant head coach.

Lingard said: "If I can achieve half of what John has achieved in the game I will have had a good career.

"It was a massive learning curve being with him and the pointers I have got off him have been invaluable.

"Me and John are still close and we still speak all of the time. But the gloves will be off during the game on Sunday. Before and after the game we will shake hands, but for the 80 minutes of the match we will be enemies."

Meanwhile, Cougars second row Lewis Wray is recovering at home after suffering an injury in his side's win over Crusaders.

His father Chris Wray tweeted: "Just letting you know that Lewis is going to be fine. No broken bones in the neck. Looks like damage to his trapezium muscle but nothing that rest and the physio won’t be able to sort. Pass on our thanks to everyone at the club."

Cougars had high-profile support watching last weekend's victory, as Mal Reilly, who coached Great Britain between 1987 and 1994, was at Cougar Park.

Lingard added he was pleased with the win over North Wales. He said: "We always seem to have these types of games against North Wales.

"It was a fantastic feeling to get a victory. We are down to -7 now, we just have to keep doing what we are doing.

"When we get to zero points we will reassess. It's good to be getting two points week in, week out."

Meanwhile, former Bulls and Cougars forward Richard Moore has been forced to retire with immediate effect due to a serious head injury.

The Keighley-born prop, aged 38, whose 18-season career began at Bradford in 2001 and included spells with Leeds Rhinos, London Broncos, Leigh, Wakefield, Crusaders, Halifax and Featherstone, joined Hunslet for a third time ahead of the 2019 season but sustained a head injury in the opening League One game at Doncaster.

A Hunslet spokesman said the player was advised he would need to undergo surgery and would no longer be able to play rugby league.

Moore, who had a loan spell at Cougars in 2002, said: "Unfortunately my career has come to an end. I'm deeply sorry that I couldn't fulfil my contract with Hunslet.

"I would just like to personally thank the club for all of their help following my injury and thank the fans for all of their support whenever I have been there."

Moore's announcement comes days after winger/full-back Vinny Finigan - who also played for Cougars - has also hung his boots up.

Finigan, who also had spells at Sheffield Eagles, Batley and Hunslet, played for London Skolars last season.