HALIFAX boss Karl Harrison will give a seasonal debut to fit-again forward Sam Barlow in tomorrow’s Co-operative Championship clash at York (3.0).
Barlow has yet to make an appearance at first team level since Harrison arrived at the club last September after being sidelined for three months with an ankle injury that required surgery.
But with two under 23 appearances under his belt – the former Siddal junior was withdrawn from the reserve side that played at Featherstone last night – Harrison wants to see the player, who claimed to have turned down an approach from Super League side Hull KR, in action.
“We need to see Sam play now,” said the former Great Britain front rower, who hands instant recalls to in-form back rowers Dane Manning and Craig Ashall, who are both available after one-week suspensions.
“He has been training hard and had a couple of 23s games, but he’s perhaps still a bit off the pace in terms of fitness.
“This will show us how much, if at all, but there is no doubt that with the ball in hand he is a real handful.
“We’ll play him in shorter spells if it helps get the best out of him, because we’ve got players like Gannon and Robinson who can play longer minutes.
“The field at York has picked Sam really; it’s a tight pitch that pretty much dictates your gameplan and we’ll go for a bit of size in the team as a result.”
The pitch dimensions at the Huntington Stadium also signals a recall for winger Wayne Reittie, who will replace Rob Worrincy on the flank as the three-way battle for two places, that also involves Paul White, goes on.
“That’s where the tough decisions are at the moment, but it’s more of a Reittie kind of game,” said Harrison.
“He’ll give us a bit of grunt, which is what we are going to need.
“To be fair to Rob, he’s unlucky, it’s just really, really close between those three at the moment and it’s the venue that’s tipped the balance in the end.”
Harrison will not risk centre Steve Tyrer, who damaged his sternum in last weekend’s 44-18 league win over Hunslet, with Lee Paterson slotting in alongside Ben Heaton.
“Steve actually trained fully on Wednesday night with some padding on and did everything asked of him,” said Harrison.
“I’ve no doubt he wants to play, but I’ve taken the decision out of his hands.
“He’s going to be a big player for us this year and I don’t want to see him get another bang on it and end up being out long-term.
“He’ll get an extra week recovery now, which will make quite a difference to him, and potentially he could miss the Challenge Cup game next weekend if we felt that was the way to go.”
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HALIFAX are running coach travel to tomorrow’s match, leaving the Shay at 12.45. Seats are priced £10 for adults and £5 for juniors. Further details are available from Neil Arber on 077144 88080.