Key players set to return for Featherstone Rovers

Paul Cooke is set to return for Friday's game at Hunslet.
Paul Cooke is set to return for Friday's game at Hunslet.

Featherstone Rovers coach Jon Sharp hopes to welcome back several key players for tomorrow night’s Championship Shield clash against in-form Hunslet Hawks at South Leeds Stadium.

The Hawks, who are second bottom, have beaten London, Whitehaven and Doncaster in their last three games to keep alive their hopes of avoiding relegation. They are just two points adrift of Batley Bulldogs and Whitehaven.

Leaders Rovers will look to bounce back after their four-match winning run ended with a 34-16 home defeat against second-placed Dewsbury who are now just one behind them.

Featherstone’s 19-man squad for tommorrow’s game is:

Andy Ellis, Steve Snitch, Gareth Moore, Ian Hardman, Jack Coventry, Paul Sykes, Jordan Baldwinson, Kyran Johnson, Bradley Tagg, Jack Bussey, Tim Spears, Will Milner, Thomas Minns, Ben Blackmore, Matt James, Jack Ormondroyd, Will Sharp, Sam Day, Paul Cooke.

Sharp said: “It’s a quick turnaround for us - Sunday to Friday is never easy - and it’s a small field at Hunslet.

“I am looking for us to play with a bit more patience and not be as frantic.

“We need to capitalise on our chances and be a bit more ruthless.

“I’m hoping Paul Cooke and Ben Blackmore will be back.

“In recent weeks, it’s just been a case of shuffling what we’ve got but if we can get Cooke and Blackmore back it freshens the team up and gives us some quality coming back into the side and experience at a really crucial stage.

“We could do with a few more experienced blokes coming back into the fold.”

Sharp will also check on Thomas Minns who was taken off against Dewsbury.

“Thomas Minns was feeling unwell. He was feeling a bit nauseous and just not himself so we took the precaution of taking him off at half-time,” added Sharp.

“He just lacked energy and we’ve got a couple of games coming up and it’s important we get him right for those.

“Steve Snitch was the same the previous week so I don’t know whether there’s been a bit of a virus going round the camp.”

Paul Wood (facial injury) will be assessed in the next few weeks but fellow prop Andy Bostock will miss the rest of the season because he has not recovered from a broken arm.

“Andy Bostock is now aiming for pre-season,” said Sharp.

“I was told he would be ready in two weeks and that he’d just got to see the surgeon but when he saw the surgeon he told him he would have to wait six months for it to heal properly. He has been a big loss for us.

“We will assess Paul Wood in about a week or two time to see where he’s at.”

Sharp was disappointed with his side’s finishing against Dewsbury.

“We created enough chances but we just weren’t clinical enough,” he said.

“It was a game of missed opportunities. We blew two chances on our right.

“Matt James says he got the ball down for a try when the referee disallowed it for a knock on.

“We’ve got a very young team who have been delivering and battling away but Dewsbury were just more clinical than us.

“Every opportunity Dewsbury had they took. They have some good players and two really good half-backs.

“Four penalties to one against us in the first 15 minutes takes the wind out of your team. A couple of calls that didn’t go our way also put us under pressure and gave Dewsbury some momentum.

“We didn’t have much of the ball in the first 20 minutes and that gave them the ascendancy. We didn’t dominate or control the game as well as we should have done.

“I thought Dewsbury had two super ball-playing halves who dominated the game.

“Thackeray wsas good and Wildie was excellent. They kicked the ball well and knew when to kick and when to run.

“We’ve got a lot of young blokes in the team at the minute. It’s good for their development and it’s good for the fans to see young players coming through but we have some key personnel we need to get back into the team.

“We’ve now got Hunslet on Friday night and we need to be ready to go there. We can’t afford to spend too long licking our wounds or feeling sorry for ourselves. We’ve got to dust ourselves down and get some energy back into the team because we know it will be tough at Hunslet.”

Featherstone pair Jordan Baldwinson and Thomas Minns and Dewsbury’s Joel Farrell have been nominated for the Championship young player of the year award.

The winner from from three-player shortlist will be announced at next Monday’s Kingstone Press Championship and League One annual dinner in Manchester.

Featherstone Rovers Ladies host Bradford Thunderbirds on Sunday (2pm). Admission is free and the bars will be open.

Latest £500 Rovers lottery winners: A Forey (C0913), J Sutton (H1445), P Gedge (B4744), N Thompson (H4560), M McCarthy (O4702). £5 consolation prizes: R Barlow (W0913), P Southern (W1445), K McCreadie (V4560), C Jarvis (W4560).