Barrow Raiders head coach Paul Crarey is hoping his side’s chronic injury crisis is finally showing signs of easing after being able to welcome back some key players in last Sunday’s defeat against Sheffield Eagles.

Captain Martin Aspinwall made his return from a damaged eyelid that required plastic surgery in the 30-18 defeat at the Betfred Championship’s Summer Bash in Blackpool, while Jordan Walne and Jarrad Stack were also back to fitness.

The likes of Bradd Crellin and Shane Toal were still absent, but Crarey wasn’t quite having to fill quite so many round holes with square pegs at Bloomfield Road.

He was finally able to hold a full-contact training session at Craven Park last week and with more bodies available, the result was a more coherent performance, even if it wasn’t quite enough to prevent a tenth straight league defeat.

Crarey said: “This is the first time we have had any consistency in selection - Martin Aspinwall hasn’t played for two and a half months, while Danny Toal is probably playing only his third game of the season and that is where we have been at.

“Everyone could see the fight within us and our fans were brilliant today.

“If we could just control the game for longer periods, instead of pressing the self-destruct button by giving the ball away 30 metres from our line or trying to score with every set, or not playing the ball correctly and giving penalties away.

“It’s about being patient and getting to the back end of kicks and then getting some repeat sets.”

Up next for Barrow is their most crucial game of the season so far, as they welcome Rochdale Hornets, the only team below them in the Championship table, to Craven Park on Sunday.

The only game the Hornets have won this season came in the reverse fixture against the Raiders in March, although they came close to changing that against Swinton Lions at the Bash, before eventually going down 40-30.

However, Swinton winning increased the gap between them and the Raiders to three points, making the need to pick up their first win since the opening day of the season that little bit greater.

Crarey said: “Rochdale showed a big improvement at the Bash and they have improved.

“I think they put the cue in the rack at half time and, in this division, you can’t afford to do that.

“Sheffield put the cue in the rack at the back end of our game and we got some points as a result.

“We know how important the game is and Matt Calland is a good coach and will have them well prepared.”