HALIFAX boss Karl Harrison is wrestling with a clutch of injury problems ahead of Sunday’s final pre-season fixture against Super League neighbours Huddersfield.
The former Great Britain prop already has several long-term absentees, with props Sam Barlow and Makali Aizue (both ankle) and threequarters James Haley (shoulder) and Lee Paterson (knee) all recovering from close-season surgery.
New pack signing Ross Divorty is currently sidelined with a fractured vertebrae sustained in a training accident - the Wales international should find out this week when he will be ready to return - and Harrison reported several fresh concerns in the wake of the 44-14 defeat at Leigh last weekend.
“I think we’re down to 18 fit players now and we’ve got a tough game coming up against the Giants at the weekend,” said Harrison, who confirmed he is still trying to bolster his squad - Fax have been heavily linked with a loan move for Wakefield Trinity prop Matt James - before the start of the club’s Northern Rail Cup campaign at Dewsbury on February 12.
“We were looking for more strength in a specific position, I never made any secret of that, but at this moment we might be stronger there than elsewhere.
“We are very light on numbers; Mick Nanyn missed Leigh and his knee doesn’t seem to be responding to physio so he could be out for a while, Paterson and Haley are already out and Callum Casey picked up what looked like a hamstring injury at the weekend.
“Anthony Thackeray has a sore wrist and Craig Ashall’s shoulder is still an issue.
“I’ll be making some calls this week to see if there is anything we can do to give us a bit more depth.”
Fax’s injury-disrupted performance at the Leigh Sports Village - Harrison also lost captain Sean Penkywicz and winger Wayne Reittie temporarily with head cuts - at least confirmed how potentially difficult the new rule limiting teams to 10 interchanges, instead of the previous 12, could make life for coaches.
“We were going to stick to 10, just to see how it worked out, but I think we used 11 in the end,” said Harrison.
“But it proved the point; we lost two players with cuts, changes that you cannot plan for, and that really limits your options.
“I think it showed that it’s going to be difficult to manage and that coaches are going to have to be smart about how they use their bench.”