Halifax expect key back rower Shane Grady to return to action after close-season knee surgery in Sunday’s Championship game against Batley at the Shay (3.0).
Grady went under the knife in the autumn to correct a persistent issue, sitting out the club’s entire pre-season programme and the first two Championship rounds as a result.
But the former Widnes player - one of Fax’s most consistent individual performers - returned to full training this week, with coach Richard Marshall confirming he was likely to figure against the Bulldogs.
“Shane just needs to get through this week and if he does that he’ll be back in the 17,” said Marshall, who admitted the impressive performance of French forward Kevin Larroyer in Sunday’s 33-26 win over Leigh had made it less certain that Grady will return automatically to his traditional left-side role.
“We need to think about how we use him and where we use him, whether that’s in the starting 13 or off the bench, but we’ll look at that on Thursday and Friday.
“He’s an important player for us and we’re looking forward to having him back.
“Batley are a proven, experienced Championship team and we need to be ready to grind out a win in this one if that’s what is required.
“They were very good in the Yorkshire Cup, probably wanted to do better against Barrow in round one and then came up against a very good Featherstone side - probably on paper the best Featherstone side we’ve seen for three or four years - last weekend.
“They’ve got players who can cause you problems and they’ll be desperate for their first win.
“We need to learn from what we did against Leigh, when we got in the arm wrestle after half time and limited their possession and territory.
“That laid the foundations for a really good 15 minutes when we were pretty much unplayable.
“We still conceded 26 points though, so there’s a bit of a soft underbelly there that we need to fix up this weekend.”
While Grady will return, hooker Ben Kaye looks set for a second successive absence with the head injury that forced him from the field against Widnes in round one.
Marshall could again opt for a back on the bench - former Leeds youngster Reece Chapman-Smith got the nod against Leigh, although James Woodburn-Hall is also a live contender - or call up rookie hooker Curtis Davies for only his third senior start.
“We’ve got some options there and we’ll assess those through the week,” said Marshall.
“Ben’s still getting some symptoms, so we need to look after him.
“I wanted to get Reece on the field and while he didn’t really get the opportunity to show us what he can do with the ball, he didn’t do anything wrong either.
“It was a taste of the Championship for him; he knows a little bit of what it’s about now.
“We’ve got James who could play that role as well or we could use Curtis and stick with two hookers.
“We’ll see how things go.”