Featherstone Rovers coach Andy Hay hopes to welcome back several key players for tomorrow night’s Championship match at Dewsbury.
Paul Wood, Andy Ellis, Gareth Moore and Ian Hardman could be back for the first of four crucial games for Rovers who host London and Sheffield over Easter before visiting Batley on April 12.
Featherstone are level on points with Dewsbury who won 31-18 at Workington last Wednesday before beating Newcastle 28-18 in the Challenge Cup on Sunday.
“Dewsbury had a couple of games last week but they rested quite a few players for the cup game on Sunday,” said Hay.
“The Rams have been there or thereabouts for the last couple of years. It’s a tough place to go especially on a Friday night.
“We’ve a run of four games we need to be taking the points out of, starting with Friday’s match.
“Dewsbury are a decent side and we’ll need to be our best because they will be. It’s an important game for us.
“We know it’s going to be a test against a team who are going to be round about us at the end of the year.
“We have steadily improved in every game. Even in the Leigh match I thought the first 40 minutes was good and the effort in the second 40, even though they scored some tries, didn’t drop off.
“We are steadily getting there. It’s just taking a bit longer than we thought due some players not arriving and others not being fit.
“We did not pick up any injuries at Whitehaven so hopefully we will have a few back.
“We will have a bigger squad to pick from - we were down to 18 last week. The players who were selected against Whitehaven did a great job for us.
“We hope Andy Ellis will be back. He just missed out against Whitehaven.
“We also hope Ian Hardman will return. He was up and running on Thursday night but just not 100 per cent.
“Paul Wood pulled out with a little niggle and he’ll be back.
“Gareth Moore should be fit. He’s a lot better than he was last week and we think he will be available for selection.”
Hay hopes overseas signings Reni Maitua and Ryan Verlinden will arrive shortly
New signing Garreth Carvell, who has yet to make his Featherstone debut, will see a specialist about a knee injury.
“I think both Reni and Ryan will be here before Easter. Reni could be here by the end of this week,” said Hay.
“We had a problem with Reni’s visa where he had to take an English test which seems ridiculous because he’s lived in Australia all his life and he’s done lots of stuff on TV.
“Garreth is struggling with his knee. We thought he’d come through it but he may not do, so we’ve got to have a look and see where we are at.
“I think he’s going in at the end of this week for the specialist to have a look to see what course of action needs to be taken.”
The Rovers boss was pleased with his depleted side’s display in Saturday’s Challenge Cup win at Whitehaven.
“We played with a lot of spirit. There was a different team out there due to injuries and even the trip up there was good. There was a good feeling about the day,” he said.
“In the second-half we controlled the ball a lot better and finished off some nice tries. There were some good performances as well.
“The younger players looked good. Will Milner and Kyran Johnson on their debuts added to the team and Jack Ormondroyd went well on his second outing. He looked big and strong and carried the ball really well.
“Paul Sykes controlled the game well. I thought in the first-half he maybe tried a little bit too hard and in the second period he relaxed a bit and took it a bit easier and didn’t try to do everything himself and it worked a lot better for the team. He had a good game and led the team round the field very well.”
Rovers visit Wrexham to play North Wales Crusaders in the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup fifth round.
It is a repeat of last season’s fourth round draw when Rovers thrashed Crusaders 66-0 at Big Fellas Stadium.
Featherstone beat Crusaders 36-6 at Wrexham in last season’s league match.
The full fifth round draw:
Hunslet Hawks v Dewsbury Rams, Leigh Miners Rangers v York City Knights, Bradford Bulls v Hull KR, Sheffield Eagles v Hull FC, Batley Bulldogs v Swinton Lions, North Wales Crusaders v Featherstone Rovers, Wakefield Trinity Wildcats v Halifax, Leigh Centurions v Salford Red Devils.
Ties will be played the weekend of April 17-18-19.
The Rovers touch rugby league resumes next month. It will run weekly from Friday, April 10 to Friday, June 12, from 6 to 7.30pm at the Centre of Excellence at the rear of Big Fellas Stadium.
The cost is £3 per player per week.
Anyone wanting to enter a team who didn’t play in the last touch league can contact Dane Weatherill on firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.playtouchrugbyleague.co.uk/ and register a team that way.