Harrison: Fax will kick off with best line-up

Boss Karl Harrison has pledged Halifax will kick off the Boxing Day friendly at Keighley (12.0) with their strongest available side.

That means places for new recruits Scott Murrell, Rikki Sheriffe, Karl Ashall and Wales international forward Andy Bracek.

Young trialists Keith Holden, the former England under 16s hooker, and ex-Elland utility back Freddie Walker also feature in a selection of 21 players.

Murrell, Fax’s big name recruit from Hull KR, will play in his favoured loose forward slot, while Ashall will share the hooking duties with Holden in the absence of his older brother, Craig, who misses out with a foot injury.

“I’m excited about seeing them all play,” enthused Harrison, who will also be without star winger Rob Worrincy, who is unavailable.

“We’ll start with the best side we have available, see how they perform and then make changes from there.

“We’ve ended up with a pretty young group of players who are very athletic and who like to move the ball.

“Craig Ashall wanted to play, but he’s got a problem with his heel so we’ve said ‘No’.

“The plan was always to give the three hookers two pre-season games each, so it’s made choosing who to leave out for this one a lot easier.

“I am looking forward to see how young Holden goes; he’s not as developed defensively as the Ashall boys, but he does look very sharp with the ball in his hands.”

Harrison said there was “plenty to look at”, with Murrell’s inclusion at 13 likely to see last season’s half back combination of Paul Handforth and Anthony Thackeray remain intact, at least initially.

“There’s a few different things we need to try and Murrell at loose forward is one of them,” said Harrison.

“Thackeray at full back is another, so that is likely to happen at some stage as well.”

Keighley could field up to nine former Halifax players, with James Haley, Paul White, Sean Hesketh and Scott Law bolstering their already sizeable contingent of Shay old boys for 2013.

After Boxing Day’s outing, Fax have a week’s break before a trip to play Dewsbury at Rams’ Stadium on January 6. They wrap up their pre-season programme against Batley at the Shay on January 20.

Halifax (probable): Fieldhouse, Sheriffe, Heaton, Tyrer, Paterson; Handforth, Thackeray; Ambler, K. Ashall, Robinson, Manning, Divorty, Murrell. Subs: Holden, Walker, Taylor, Berrett, Bracek, Barlow, Casey, Davies