JOHN Kear is still unsure if the Bulls will be able to call on their strongest half-back combination for the League One kick-off.

Dane Chisholm has yet to step on a rugby field since undergoing major knee surgery last summer. He has been targeting the final friendly against Keighley for a comeback.

Joe Keyes has been limited to only 15 minutes of action in pre-season following his World Cup injury with Ireland.

Kear is not ruling either of them out for the start of the campaign at York on February 18.

But he insists Bradford will not throw the pair in together for the sake of it before they are ready – and decisions must be taken with a long-term view in mind.

"Our medical staff are working hard to get them out there," said Kear.

"We thought Joe was fit against Dewsbury but after 15 minutes his knee was playing him up. He couldn't finish that game.

"It's no good us pushing them out there for round one, if they are then going to miss rounds two to seven.

"We've got to realise this season runs from round one to 26 and it's whoever is on the top of the league then that matters.

"We've got to stay strong and hold our nerve so that we make the correct decisions in the bigger picture, rather than the immediate one."

Elliot Minchella, Brandon Pickersgill and Lee Smith did the job in the 34-0 loss to Toronto last week as Kear casts an eye on alternative options should they be needed.

He said: "Number six and seven of the squad numbers are Chisholm and Keyes and we'd love to have them out there.

"But if they're not fit, they're not fit and there's nothing you can do about that. If they can't play, we've got to play who we feel are the best at that point in time.

"I'm not going to criticise Elliot Minchella, Lee Smith or young Brandon, who've played there up to now, because I think they've done a valiant job. I think they will be better for having that experience."