PLAYMAKER Callum Casey will make a shock return to the Halifax line up in tomorrow’s Northern Rail Cup date at London Skolars.
Casey, a former Leeds junior snapped up by boss Karl Harrison in the autumn, has not played since limping off in the pre-season loss at Leigh in January.
The son of the former Test prop Leo Casey had been told he needed cartilage surgery and would be sidelined for around two months, but, according to Harrison, has made something approaching a miracle recovery.
“Callum was waiting for an op, but basically it felt better, so he started training,” said Harrison, whose side need a win in north London to be mathematically certain of progression to the quarter finals.
“It felt okay, so he trained a bit more and it still felt okay, so he went back to see the specialist and they’ve told him he can play.
“It’s good for Callum, obviously, and it’s good for us because we’ve been struggling for bodies.
“He needs a game and he’ll get one tomorrow, probably from the bench.”
Casey will not be the only player on the comeback trail, with versatile back Lee Paterson also likely to be among the substitutes, his first first team appearance for almost seven months after a knee reconstruction.
“Paterson’s been training well, but he’s got to force his way back into the team now,” said Harrison.
“Ben Heaton and Steve Tyrer have done well, although I thought Tyrer has had better games than he did against Featherstone last weekend.
“It’s up to Lee now, but he does give us some options because he could play back row at a push, as can Heaton.”
Harrison is considering resting vice captain Paul Handforth, who was a late inclusion against Featherstone last weekend, because of a dead leg. The coach has one eye on next weekend’s Co-operative Championship opener against Hunslet.
London-born wingman Rob Worrincy is also certain to play, with Paul White earning a week’s rest.
“We’re not 100 per cent on Handforth, but it would give him a break and give Anthony Bowman the chance to start in the halves,” said Harrison.
“Bowman’s done well when he’s had the chance and he’s definitely got a talent worth developing.
“He made a bad play against Featherstone last week but he knows that and I’d like to get him back out there.
“Rob needs some football, as does Wayne Reittie, who I thought was a bit off last week compared to where his form has been.
“Other than that, we’ll be looking at a very similar side to last week.”
Harrison admitted Joe Mbu’s Skolars are an unknown quantity, although their recent form suggests they are finally beginning to shed their tag as the game’s easy-beats.
“They beat South Wales last week and were competitive in the second half against Batley,” said Harrison.
“Batley blew them away in the first half so it’s important we start strong.
“We need to take the right approach, otherwise we’re just inviting them in to a dogfight.”
Match preview - page 29