Jonty Gorley is optimistic Dion Aiye will not be ruled out long-term after he was forced off in the opening minutes of Whitehaven’s pre-season defeat away to Barrow Raiders yesterday.

The Papua New Guinean sustained an injury in the opening minutes of Haven’s 24-8 defeat at Craven Park and was seen walking around on crutches after the game.

It was initially feared Aiye had damaged his ankle, but assistant coach Gorley confirmed it was not as bad as first feared and hopes the back could return for the friendly against Newcastle Thunder on February 10.

“It was a bit of a precaution,” said Gorley. “At first, we thought it was an ankle, but he was on the other side of the pitch.

“He’s come off and the doctors have had a look at him, and it’s a bit of a soft-tissue injury to his lower leg.

“Hopefully he’ll be ready for the Newcastle friendly, but as long as he’s ready for the Keighley game then we’ll be happy.”

Aiye’s injury came as a blow to Whitehaven, who only managed to field a 17-man squad for the match with the Raiders after Chris Taylor said he was fine to play.

Kris Coward and Sam Dowsett are expected to be back for the clash with Newcastle though, as will the currently-unavailable Brett Philips. Gorley is also optimistic Jessie Joe Parker’s visa will have come through by then too.

Despite going to Craven Park with a depleted squad, Gorley was heartened by what he saw from Whitehaven and felt there were plenty of improvements from the defeat to near-neighbours Workington Town in the Ike Southward Memorial Trophy match.

“We went to a Championship side with a bit of a depleted team due to injuries and lads being away, and, until Chris Taylor put his hand up, we only had 16 players,” said Gorley.