Millward refuses to dwell on injuries as Hooper and Smith join the list

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The Independent Online

Hull might not want to discuss their injuries, but St Helens' Ian Millward is happy enough to enumerate his worries as they go into this evening's game between fourth and fifth in Super League.

Millward has added Jason Hooper and Darren Smith to a list of absentees which already included Paul Sculthorpe, Paul Newlove and Martin Gleeson. "We are talking of seven starting players out of 13 missing and, while it isn't a good time, it isn't something we should dwell on," the Saints coach said.

Hull's Shaun McRae handled his side's rather more deep-seated problems with an uncharacteristic lack of composure last weekend, slapping a media ban on any further discussion of the subject, an action that smacked of feeling the pressure.

Not only will Hull be four points adrift of fourth place if they lose tonight's away fixture, but a tough run-in, with Bradford, St Helens again, Castleford, Wigan and Leeds to play, even raises the spectre of missing the play-offs altogether.

If Widnes win at Huddersfield tomorrow, they could be just one point behind Hull, and when Castleford or Warrington pick up points at The Jungle they will be breathing down their necks as well.

For that trip, the Wolves have Mark Gleeson, Nick Fozzard and Sid Domic to add to the side that should have beaten Wigan last week, but Paul Noone is out with a rib injury, joining Rob Smyth and Lee Briers on the sidelines.

But Gleeson is ready to return from a groin injury and Fozzard has recovered sufficiently from a bad cut near the eye to take his place in the squad.

Francis Maloney and Nathan Sykes return for Castleford, who are also without their injury-plagued second-rower Jamie Thackray for the rest of the season after he broke his arm for the second time this year. Thackray's fellow forward, Dale Fritz, is also ruled out with a finger injury while Damian Gibson faces a fitness check on a knee and Wayne Bartrim is hopeful of returning after six weeks out with hip trouble.

The London Broncos can keep themselves in contention by winning at Wakefield, but victory for Trinity would virtually doom Halifax to relegation, should they lose at Wigan.

The Yorkshire club seem resigned to their fate. "It's pretty obvious it's going to happen," said their coach, Tony Anderson. "We need to win seven from seven."

Anderson, who gives a debut to the young prop, Byron Smith, believes several of his players have been unsettled by approaches from other clubs, some of them before the 1 July deadline, but says that he wants to stick around to try to bring Halifax back next year.

He will not have to worry about the injured Adrian Lam at Wigan, with Luke Robinson standing in, but Shaun Briscoe and Danny Sculthorpe are fit.

The National League One leaders, Salford, are at home to Doncaster, who have lost touch with Anthony Seuseu, who joined them after being released by Halifax, but is thought to have returned home to New Zealand.

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