THE Gunnedah Bulldogs could be without one of their star players for the opening rounds of the Group 4 season.
Reece Jaeger's hope of lining up in the Bulldogs first game of the season has taken a hit, after the centre underwent knee surgery.
Bulldogs coach Mick Schmiedel said he was confident the side's captain would be fit "before too long".
"Basically, Reece has gone in for a bit of a clean out of his knee and could miss the first game or two," Schmiedel told the Leader.
"I think he's probably needed it for a little while and while he might miss a couple of games, I'm sure he will be a big factor for us in the back-end of the season."
Jaeger isn't the only key player on the sidelines, as Schmiedel revealed one of the club's new recruits was also battling injury.
"Benny Pentors has picked up a bit of calf injury," he said.
"He's having a little bit of a hard time getting over it, but I'm sure he will come good soon enough."
Pentors is among several new recruits the Bulldogs have welcomed during the off-season alongside Blake Huddleston.
"So far, we haven't lost anyone and we have been able to bring in some new guys, as well as get a few old players back," Schmiedel said.
"Hopefully, we can add a couple more players in the coming weeks.
"But it is certainly shaping up really well at the moment and I'm really pleased with the effort everyone is showing at training."
Schmiedel said he was pushing to have more under-18 players involved at training.
"We're still a bit thin with the amount of under-18 players attending training," he said.
"We will still have a team this year, there's no doubt about that, I would just like to see a few more get down to training and get involved.
"The season is still a little ways away, but it's crucial to get some training in and begin the season the right way."
The Bulldogs will gear up for the start of the season with a trial matches against Singleton, Port Macquarie and Dubbo.
"We're hoping to make these trial matches annual events," Schmiedel said.
"It can be a headache organising trial matches, but with these ones set in stone, we can have the best preparation possible."