Barrow Raiders’ next Betfred Championship fixture is still 11 days away, but head coach Paul Crarey is already looking ahead to what will be a crucial clash at Widnes Vikings next Sunday.

The Vikings managed to avoid liquidation earlier in the season, their first back in the second tier after their relegation from the Super League, but they were forced to begin the campaign on -12 points.

Their good form has so far has meant they have managed to keep their heads above water, but a shock 16-12 home defeat against York City Knights last Sunday led to them dropping back in the relegation zone.

That happening was down to the Raiders finally picking up their first win of the season on the same day, as they thrashed bottom side Rochdale Hornets 54-10 at Craven Park.

The performance against the Hornets, as much as the result, should really lift the players’ confidence when they visit the Halton Stadium for what could be a pivotal fixture.

Crarey said: “They’re losing players all the time because even though they are a full-time team, they’re very vulnerable because they’re not putting the same players out.

“Their star centre is apparently going to Warrington, or something like that, so whether he plays I don’t know, but again, when you get disruption in your camp, whether it’s injuries or otherwise, every team in this division becomes vulnerable.

“It’s not like League One, where you get away with it.

“We went into the Rochdale game without a win in ten games, or whatever it was, which was hard to take when you’re trying to find your feet, but we got the win.

“I was so pleased for the group and we sang the [victory] song for the first time in a long time and it was just a great feeling to win again and give these great fans who’ve stuck with us a lift.”

The Challenge Cup quarter finals this weekend means another break from league action for Barrow, but they’ll be returning to action in what is their first-ever 1895 Cup tie against Bradford Bulls next Wednesday.

The fact that the Bulls will be playing Halifax in the Challenge Cup just three days beforehand will surely mean they’ll be a much-changed outfit at Craven Park.

But with a short turnover to follow for the Raiders too, Crarey could use the match to blood some of the young talent at his disposal, such as Ryan Johnston, Jake Carter and Adam Ford.

Crarey said: “Ryan Johnston has had a bit of a shoulder strain, while Jake Carter had a horrible collision in training with Josh Johnson - he ended up in hospital and he’s got bruising around his spine.

“Hopefully, we will probably play Ryan against Bradford and then give Jake a run against Widnes and that will integrate them within our team. They’re great offensively them two kids, but they just need to develop physically.”