Salford hooker Wilkinson in line for Fax debut at Batley

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Halifax could have Salford hooker Matthew Wilkinson in their side for Sunday’s Championship fixture at Batley (3.0) after the young number nine turned out for the club’s reserve side last weekend.

Fax boss Richard Marshall has a major doubt over the availability of Ben Kaye for the trip to Mount Pleasant after the former Featherstone player injured his shoulder and watched the second half of last weekend’s 32-26 home loss to his old club from the dugout.

Fax have already seen Kaye’s understudy, the Cumbrian Brandon Moore, sidelined for eight weeks with a broken hand.

That could open the door for the Red Devils’ Wilkinson, who was a unheralded inclusion in the second string side that contested a friendly against Warrington’s under 19s last Saturday, to make a competitive debut on dual registration.

“Matthew played for the reserves last weekend and he’s been training with us this week,” said Marshall

“There might be an opportunity for him there if he trains well, but a lot depends on what happens with Ben.

“He was pretty sore after the game and his initial reaction was that he felt he’d be out for a couple of weeks.

“But looked at him at training on Tuesday and within 15 minutes of the physio getting to work on him the joint had loosened up quite a bit.

“He’ll do limited contact on Thursday, and at the moment it’s probably a 50/50 chance at best, but we’ve not ruled him out yet.

“We’ve got options within the squad, Scott Murrell and Connor Robinson, but it’s a specialist position and while we manufactured one makeshift hooker on Sunday with Ed Barber playing there, manufacturing two would be a big call.

“Some of our dummy half passing was woeful against Featherstone and probably had an impact on the result.

“You take it for granted when those specialists are there that those balls are going to be on the money and it’s only when you take them out that people see how difficult that skill can be.”

Marshall is also hunting for a centre, with the in-form Ben Heaton definitely missing the trip to Mount Pleasant with a dead leg.

“Ben won’t play this week,” confirmed Marshall, who named James Woodburn-Hall and Chester Butler as the likely alternatives.

As well as enforced changes, Marshall also has the option to recall the former Batley half back Gareth Moore, whose kicking game could give him an edge over rival Ben Johnston.

“I was happy with some of the things we did at the weekend and less happy with others,” said Marshall.

Batley go into the game on the back of an opening day horror show in Toulouse, which saw the Championship newcomers - coached by Marshall’s friend and former Halifax teammate Sylvain Houles - romp to a 40-point win.

“I’m not sure anyone saw the scoreline coming, but Toulouse are a good side,” said Marshall, who saw star back rower Dane Manning walk out in November to rejoin the Bulldogs.

“Batley are going to be smarting this weekend; it’s also their first home game and they’ll want to put on a performance.

“They bullied us at their place last year and they’ll try to do the same again on Sunday.

“Their coach is going to be desperate for a win and this coach is desperate for a win.

“I’ll take an ugly victory this weekend, it’s a game where the result is more important than the performance.”