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Saturday, 02 August 2014

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Holt’s lips sealed on first Barrow Raiders selection

RAIDERS boss Darren Holt has picked his 17-man squad for Sunday’s Championship opener at Hunslet – but is keeping the selection close to his chest.

The Barrow coach has a 27-strong roster – minus a handful of early injury victims – to choose from, but only two pre-season matches and nine weeks of training to base his decision on.

The postponement of the planned final friendly with Whitehaven two weeks ago due to the weather denied Holt a last chance to assess his options, but he feels he is ready to pick his best side for the trip to the South Leeds Stadium.

“I already know who’s playing – I’m just not telling anyone yet,” he said.

“It might not be 100 per cent, but looking at the games we have played and I’ve also had a chance to look at a DVD to see how Hunslet play on a smaller pitch, we will pick a side we think can go there and best tackle them.

“It’s there or thereabouts. There are maybe some key decisions to be made and I will be discussing those with Dean or Phil.

“Even with the injuries we have got, there are still some decisions to be made in the back line, where week-in, week-out, there are going to be people left out.

“I’ve already had a word with the players about this and if they are not selected for whatever reason, whether it be based on training or performance, then what I am looking for from them is a reaction.

“If I get the wrong reaction, then they might find themselves sat on the sidelines for a bit longer.

“We’re a squad and I think everybody has bought into that, but like always, there will be some people who – rightly so – will be unhappy not to be selected.

“As a coach, you want to see that, because these guys just want to be playing.” Several men sure to be out are the clutch of injury victims who have not featured in pre-season.

Jack Spencer had an operation to remove pins from his foot on Monday, while Nathan Mossop (knee), Jamie Butler (wrist) and Ruairi McGoff (knee) have only just resumed training.

Andrew Dawson (knee), Mike Whitehead (thigh), Tom Brannon (hamstring) and Liam Campbell (dead leg) also have knocks, though could come into contention this weekend.

Holt added: “Jack’s operation went fine. We’ve just got to wait for him to have the stitches out now some time early next week and it shouldn’t be too long after that, hopefully, before he can get back out on the pitch.

“We’ve had Ruairi McGoff back out on the park, Jamie Butler back out on the park for a training session and Nathan Mossop has been back out on the park as well.

“I still think there will be a little bit yet before they will be in contention.

“Tom Brannon is still struggling with a hamstring injury, but it is getting better. We just don’t want to rush that hamstring in case it gets worse and drags on.

“Everybody is getting there slowly, slowly, but things are going in the right direction.”

Despite missing several of his front-rowers for the season-opener, Holt does not foresee playing people out of position at Hunslet.

He still feels he has the numbers necessary, and said: “I don’t think we’re quite so bad as to need to move players out of position as yet.

“I don’t like switching people. I have signed my squad with people in certain positions in mind and unless it’s forced upon us, people will play in their preferred positions.

“I think it’s disrespectful to other lads if you move someone from one position to another when you have got lads who are fit and could jump in that position.

“I don’t think we’re there yet. I think we can get a team out and in the next week or two we will have people filtering back, so that will cause a step up, add competition for places and make decisions even harder.”

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