Challenge Cup: Woodburn-Hall returns, but others in doubt

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Halifax will recall centre James Woodburn-Hall for Thursday night’s televised sixth round Challenge Cup tie at Featherstone (8.0).

The in-form Londoner missed Sunday’s Championship win at Dewsbury with a virus that has spread through the Fax camp over the last week, with captain Scott Murrell and loose forward Jacob Fairbank its latest victims.

Woodburn-Hall’s return should mean a back row berth for the versatile Ben Heaton, although with doubts lingering over Murrell and Fairbank, plus the injured James Saltonstall (calf), Ben Kaye (groin) and Ed Barber (arm) coach Richard Marshall’s final selection remains in a state of flux.

“James Woodburn-Hall will come back in and Ben will probably go to the back row, but we’ve a few people struggling at the moment,” said Marshall.

“Ben Kaye’s going to see a specialist today (Wednesday) about his groin; he wants to play, and he’s telling me he’s okay, but we won’t risk him if there’s any chance of doing further damage.

“A few of the others didn’t train on Tuesday night, so we’ll see how things go between now and kick off.”

Marshall named a 19-man selection on Tuesday - the side that played at Dewsbury, plus Chester Butler and Woodburn-Hall - but there remains a chance he could look outside that, with rookie front rower Will Calcott an outside chance of making a shock first team debut as the club hunt a place in the last eight.

“The reserves play Hull tonight, so he’ll probably play half a game there and we’ll see how he goes,” said Marshall.

“He came with us to Dewsbury on Sunday and at the moment I’d he’s probably the next one we’ll look at.

“I quite like the way he plays; he’s a big thing, he’s got an offload in his game and he’s quite difficult for defenders to manage.

“He could end up playing twice in two days if things go his way.”

Marshall rates Fax as underdogs for the clash with John Sharp’s Rovers, who currently sit two points clear of them in second place on the Championship ladder.

But with away wins at Post Office Road in 2016 and 2015, Fax will not lack confidence.

“They’re a good side and they’re playing well; they’ve got systems that work for them and they do the basics very well,” said Marshall.

“They’ll be favourites, but it’s a big game and we’re looking forward to being involved in it.”