Sculthorpe's injury woes cloud his future

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The Independent Online

Both the short- and long-term future of Paul Sculthorpe hang in the balance this weekend. The former Great Britain captain, one of the finest players of his generation, had one of the worst-kept secrets in the game confirmed last week when St Helens said they were not offering him a contract for next season.

Saints cited the need to keep within the salary cap and Sculthorpe's recent injury record. At one stage it seemed certain he would be picked up by Salford, who are rebuilding their squad for their return to Super League next season. But they have had second thoughts, leaving Sculthorpe in limbo, although it is still likely that they or someone else will take the risk with him – provided the price is right.

He is out of Saints' team for today's trip to Harlequins with the hamstring injury that is making him an increasingly doubtful starter for the Challenge Cup final in two weeks' time. Willie Talau, another who is being released at the end of this season, has recovered from his hamstring and plays alongside Matt Gidley, who agreed a new, one-year contract this week.

Quins still have a chance of making the play-offs. They hope Tony Clubb will recover from a rib injury and add Joe Mbu and Dwayne Barker to their squad.

Bradford look stronger for the return of Paul Deacon and David Solomona against Hull. Also in the squad is Jason Crookes, called back from loan at Widnes, and Richard Johnson retains his spot.

Hull have Motu Tony back after a 15-week absence with knee damage, but also their usual list of other casualties.

The Warrington coach, James Lowes, is considering bringing back Paul Wood for his first match since the start of the season. The Great Britain prop has finally recovered from a severe shoulder injury. Warrington's opponents, Hull KR, are likely to start with Paul Cooke at loose forward as he continues his rehabilitation after seeming to be on his way out of the club a couple of weeks ago.

In National League One, Leigh play what could be, subject to play-off fixtures, their last game at Hilton Park, their home since 1947, when they face Whitehaven today. Next season the club move to a new stadium at the Leigh Sporting Village.

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