Batley Bulldogs hope to have key trio back for play-off clash with Bradford Bulls
Batley Bulldogs hope that key trio Ben Kaye, Alistair Leak and James Brown will all be available for this weekend’s play-off contest with Bradford Bulls.
Batley host the Bulls at the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium on Saturday after leapfrogging their opponents into fourth after beating Halifax Panthers as Bradford lost at home to Whitehaven on Sunday.
Head coach Craig Lingard only had 17 fit players for the trip to Halifax while two more players picked up knocks in that win, currently leaving him with just 15 men ahead of the opening round of the play-offs.
“Toby Everett picked up a head knock and failed a concussion test this week so he can’t play,” said Lingard.
“George Senior is unavailable as well, so that is two of the 17 that played last week who are unavailable.
“At the minute we are down to 15. We are hopeful that Ben Kaye, Alistair Leak and James Brown will be somewhere near the team.
"Hopefully the players that are missing will be replaced by a couple more. Fingers crossed that we get some bodies back.”
Bradford are coached by former Bulldogs boss John Kear, who guided Batley to a third-placed finish in 2016.
He was also in charge at Sheffield Eagles in 1998 when they pulled off one of the greatest shocks in rugby league history to lift the Challenge Cup after beating Wigan Warriors at Wembley.
Lingard added: “This weekend, they are most threatening because there is nobody better prepared to get them ready for a knockout game than John Kear.
“He has proven that throughout his career, he can get teams up for one-off games. If you lose this week you are out.
“After the performance they had against Whitehaven, I would imagine we will expect an improved performance and a tough, physical battle down the middle.
"The message to our side is that we need to physically toughen up down the middle.”