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Saturday, 20 December 2014

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Raiders in the wars ahead of Gateshead trip

BARROW Raiders have all hands on deck as they struggle to raise a full squad for Sunday’s match at Gateshead Thunder.

Despite having a week off from competitive action, the already-lengthy injury list at Craven Park has increased.

Brad Marwood broke his hand playing for Cumbria in the RL Nines at Workington on Tuesday and hooker James Dandy (pictured, left) pulled his calf at the same event.

Prop Ruairi McGoff, who overcame a calf injury to feature in the win against Whitehaven a fortnight ago, has now hurt his knee, while Andy Ballard has a quad strain that stopped him training last week.

Added to long-term injured Aaron Low, Chris Larkin, Jack Pedley and Andy Litherland and other treatment room residents Darren Holt and Liam Finch is James Gordon, whose work commitments rule him out of the next two games.

That makes a total of 12 men either definitely out or major doubts and player/coach Holt is acing the prospect of not being able to field a full 17 at South Shields on Sunday.

“It’s not looking good,” said the veteran half-back, who is currently nursing a groin strain.

“I’m trying to pick a team now and currently – and I’m making a few assumptions even here – we have 16 players available for this week.

“That’s the state we are in.”

He added: “Brad Marwood broke his hand playing nines, James Gordon is away for the next two weeks with work.

“Ruairi is struggling with a knee injury he picked up and then recurred on Tuesday, and he is looking doubtful.

“I’m still doubtful, Liam Harrison didn’t train on Tuesday – and the list goes on.

“There’s Aaron Low, Jack Pedley, Chris Larkin, Andy Litherland – they are all long-term injuries.

“I’m currently looking at trying to choose between 16.

“I’m sure people will stump up – and if I had to play, then I would play. I don’t know what good I would be, but I would play.

“That’s the situation we find ourselves in.”

There is a small chink of light for Holt and his side with Lee Haney having overcome a calf problem, while the coach is hopeful that skipper Harrison and full-back Ballard will come through fitness tests ahead of the game. Nick Beach is also available to make his first appearance of the season, having joined up with the club at the start of last month.

Most of the injuries, however, are more long-term, casting a doubt on selection for the Championship One match with Gateshead and next week’s Northern Rail Cup quarter-final at Halifax.

“Lee Haney is fine,” added Holt. “He had a knock on his calf, but he has been playing in the nines the last two Tuesdays, so his fitness has been keeping up and he has gone all right in them by all accounts.

“The team we will be putting out will be a strong team, it’s just that numbers-wise, the team is picking itself. It’s not that I have any decisions to make.

“The Halifax game next week is another worry with injuries, but after that week we should be getting people back and getting some numbers back on board.

“I don’t think Chris Larkin is too far off and he could even be ready next week.

“But we have extra pressure next week – Andy Bracek is going to play for Wales and James Gordon is still away – so there is a lot of pressure on the forward pack and we have nobody to step up and come in.”

l Barrow’s Championship One match with Whitehaven next month has been moved forward to Thursday, July 19 and will be screened live by Premier Sports.

The game between the sides currently first and fourth in the table will kick-off at 7.30pm.

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