Castleford Tigers boss Daryl Powell has concerns over a couple of players who have picked up injuries in pre-season, but hopes to have a fully fit squad to start the 2017 Super League season.
Forwards Oliver Holmes and Larne Patrick have suffered setbacks since reporting back for training and remain the biggest doubts to recover in time for the big kick-off against Leigh in February.
But Ben Roberts, Andy Lynch, Adam Milner and Joel Monaghan, who were also unable to play in the Boxing Day game against Hull, are well on the road to recovery and expected to be available for the opening game.
Powell told the Express: “We won’t be far off having everyone available for the start of the Super League season, but you never know.
“Larne Patrick’s had a little bit of news that he needs another scan on his wrist so we need to get a check on that.
“Ben Roberts has progressed, but he is going to need to step training up in the next three or four weeks to have a chance because obviously Rangi Chase and Luke Gale are in a good position at the moment and Zak Hardaker’s been training the house down. It’s very competitive their workplace at the moment.
“Oli Holmes is in progressive training, but he has struggled to get running consistently on his knee so there’s little bits and pieces like that, that are concerns.
“But overall I am hoping that everybody is going to be okay. Larne and Oli are two I’m hoping are going to progress over the next three or four weeks, that will depend on their injuries healing a little bit quicker than they have been.”
Powell, meanwhile, has confirmed that following his return to fitness after a long injury lay-off Michael Shenton will be back as the Tigers skipper in the 2017 season.
He said: “There’s no question about Michael Shenton staying as captain.
“He’s an outstanding captain who has really developed as a leader and obviously an outstanding player.
“He’s hardly missed a meeting in pre-season and he’s been as prominent as ever.
“Luke Gale did a good job last year and we’ve got a strong group of leaders, which I’m really pleased with.
“There’s an edge about the squad at the moment and obviously we’ve got to prove that on the playing field, but all the signs I’ve seen are of real excitement moving forward.”