Rugby League: Johnson remains philosophical: Warrington press on with crucial championship match despite heavy international calls

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The Independent Online
NO ONE will be more anxious about the injury toll from last night's international in Cardiff than Brian Johnson, the Warrington coach, writes Dave Hadfield.

Johnson has elected to go ahead with a crucial championship match against Bradford Northern tomorrow, despite having four players in last night's Welsh team and thus

being entitled to a postponement.

He will therefore have little idea of his likely side for such an important match until he sees whether Jonathan Davies, Allan Bateman, Kevin Ellis and Rowland Phillips have come through safely. 'I won't even be crossing my fingers, because what will happen will happen,' Johnson said. 'It is a risk but it would also be a risk to allow

another midweek fixture to mount up.'

Johnson already has to find a

replacement for Rob Myler,

injured in Warrington's last outing, a damaging defeat at Halifax. That result makes tomorrow's game what he calls 'our absolutely last throw of the dice', because another loss will put a cavernous gap between Wigan and Bradford on one side and the rest.

Bradford themselves had the two wings who played in their Challenge Cup defeat at Leeds - Daio Powell and Gerald Cordle - on duty at Cardiff last night. They at least have

obvious replacements available in Brimah Kebbie and Carl Hall, their new signing from Doncaster.

Bradford, however, will be without their regular hooker, Trevor Clark, who ripped his ear at Leeds and is likely to be replaced by Paul Medley. Bradford could lose and still conceivably challenge Wigan for the championship; if Warrington are beaten, they will undoubtedly be out of the running. One virtual certainty is that neither side can improve their position in relation to Wigan this weekend, because the champions are at the bottom club, Leigh.

The two sides struggling to avoid joining Leigh in relegation have daunting tasks. Oldham are at Leeds, while Hull Kingston Rovers are at home to Castleford, whose already healthy and settled squad will be strengthened by the return of Tony Smith after a two-month

absence with a groin injury.