HALIFAX coach Matt Calland has admitted the club is facing an injury “crisis” ahead of Sunday’s Northern Rail Cup decider against Leigh at Bloomfield Road.
Centre candidates Lee Paterson and Ryan Fieldhouse have already been virtually ruled out of Fax’s second major final in less than a year.
And Calland has sizeable question marks over the participation of six more regular starters, including star winger Rob Worrincy and in-form loose forward Jacob Fairbank.
Paterson has been sidelined for three weeks with a knee problem and saw a specialist this week and is now waiting for the results of a scan, which should provide a definitive diagnosis.
Fieldhouse, who started Saturday night’s victory at Barrow less than a week after turning professional following BARLA’s tour to Australia, suffered a recurrence of an ankle ligament injury early in the game, forcing Calland to deploy back rower Joe Chandler as a makeshift centre.
“Paterson’s waiting for scan results, but he’s no chance,” said Calland.
“Initially they thought it was medial ligament damage, but they’re now talking about his cruciate, which is obviously a lot more serious.
“If that was the case, he’d be looking at surgery and a long lay off.
“Fieldhouse went over on the same ankle he had problems with in the spring and has damaged the ligaments again.
“I can’t see him being anywhere near ready to play next weekend.”
That pair are only the tip of Fax’s injury iceberg, prompting Calland to say: “It’s definitely a crisis at the moment.”
Worrincy missed the win at Craven Park after being kneed in the groin at training last Friday and spent that night in hospital in Leeds.
Fairbank, the dual-registered Huddersfield player who has been a major success story in 2011, has a deadleg, the same injury as fellow back rower Steve Bannister.
Ryan Clayton, who can cover either centre or back row, is suffering with sciatica, while prop Michael Ostick suffered a recurrence of his knee ligament problem on his comeback appearance against Dewsbury 10 days ago.
The one bright spot for Fax is a potential return for centre Jon Goddard, who trained for the first time on Monday night after a long lay off with a rib injury.
“It’s too early to say with most of them, but that’s rugby league for you,” said Calland.
“I think it will be Friday night before we have a clear picture of who’s going to play and who’s not.”
HALIFAX have sold virtually all of their 3,300 ticket allocation for Sunday’s Northern Rail Cup final.
Fax director Mike Riley said less than 300 remained yesterday afternoon, with business at the Shay still described as “brisk”.
The club were hoping to shift the remainder before close of business today, after which they will be returned to the RFL for sale.
“We’re going to take a tremendous following, which is fantastic for the club,” said Riley.