Fax’s Saltonstall likely to get first shot at full back berth

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Halifax coach Richard Marshall looks likely to give young back James Saltonstall the first shot at securing the club’s full back berth in Sunday’s Championship fixture against Dewsbury at the Shay (3.0).

Halifax-born Saltonstall, a close season signing from Warrington, finished last weekend’s game against Featherstone at the back after the loss of regular number one Miles Greenwood, who underwent surgery on Tuesday to repair a double fracture of his lower leg.

And the former England Academy player looks likely to be Marshall’s first port of call as he looks to find a medium-term replacement for Greenwood.

“I think James will get the first crack at it,” said Marshall, whose other options include half back Ben Johnston and Saltonstall’s fellow wingers Rikki Sheriffe - currently on loan at Keighley - and Gareth Potts.

“He has played there before and he returns the ball pretty strongly.

“We’ll try to develop his passing and kicking game and see how he goes.

“There’s a fair bit of organisation involved at full back, which Miles is very good at, but Salty’s pretty vocal and the other guys respect him, so he should be okay in that area.

“We’ll have to reshuffle the backline, but we’ve got Alex Brown, Potts, Chris Taylor, Rikki, so we’re not too short on numbers there.

“I thought Ben Johnston played very well against Featherstone and he will be in the 17 this week, whether that’s on the bench or at the expense of someone else.”

Marshall, who was optimistic that hooker Ben Kaye would be fit after withdrawing from last week’s warm up with a thumb injury, admitted there was some uncertainty over the length of the Greenwood’s absence.

“I saw Miles in hospital on Sunday night and he was in a pretty dark place,” said Marshall, who said “75 per cent” of Fax’s playing squad had also visited their teammate.

“But I saw him after the surgery on Tuesday and he’s positive and knows he’s on the road to recovery now.

“They’ve put a titanium rod in his leg to help it heal and the specialist’s initial reaction is that he’s not sure he’ll play again this year.

“But we’ll do everything we can to help him with his rehab and make sure our season goes on for as long as possible.

“We’re certainly not giving up on him.”

Marshall will take his side into Sunday’s game looking to dodge a third successive home loss, against a Rams outfit who ended Fax’s 2014 season with a crushing play off win.

“I was at that game and they were head and shoulders above Halifax that day,” said Marshall.

“They’re a big, strong team with some quality players.

“But we’re going out there to put on a performance, and if we do that hopefully it will be enough for us to win the game and score some nice tries too.”