Ryan back to aid survival bid

THE return of Ryan Hammond from suspension means Old Crossleyans have their strongest squad of the season ready for their make-or-break eight-match run-in.

The Broomfield men are in deep trouble in North One East, five points behind a Northern side who occupy the final safe position and have two games in hand.

However, Crocs have won two of their last three games and will be optimistic of another success should the freeze which has gripped Broomfield this week ease enough for them to meet rock-bottom Team Northumbria tomorrow.

No 8 Hammond was dismissed for an alleged head butt in a 27-19 defeat at Gateshead on January 27 but has served a club-imposed four week ban and no further disciplinary action has been taken against him.

With key scrummager Mark Palmer back from retirement and the injuries which have blighted a small squad clearing up, Crocs will have some useful players on the bench or in the seconds when they return to the fray.

Hammond has been dismissed twice this season and skipper James Wainwright knows that the forward and the team as a whole will need to be on their best behaviour if Crocs are to escape.

“We had become a bit ill-disciplined but against Northern and Percy Park it was spot on and that was one of the main reasons we won the game,” said Wainwright.

“It is still an uphill battle to secure safety but we should have a strong squad for the rest of the season so there can be no excuses.”

Hammond’s return to the starting line-up, alongside Manny Riaz and Danny Booth, means fit-again Simon Normanton will by vying with Chris Wood, Mark Kavanagh and Kevin McGill for places in the second row.

A couple of useful backs are also likely to be disappointed with Joe Baker and Chris Seymour available again.