Rugby League: No help for tired Eagles

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The Independent Online
WARRINGTON WILL get what their opposing coach believes is a little extra help from the fixture planners when they play at Sheffield today.

The seventh-placed team in Super League will draw level with Castleford and Gateshead if they win at the Don Valley Stadium and the Eagles' John Kear says that his side's heavy workload gives Warrington an unfair advantage.

"We had the battle of Belle Vue against Wakefield on Sunday and we were a very tired team against Wigan on Wednesday," he said. "Warrington will be completely fresh and, if I was Gateshead or Castleford, I wouldn't be very happy about it."

Kear has been a consistent critic of the misguided policy of slotting in midweek fixtures this season and his argument about their distorting effect on the competition is hard to deny.

Sheffield are likely to be without their stand-off and goal-kicker, Martin Pearson, who damaged knee ligaments against Wigan, but Michael Jackson could be fit to return after recovering from a head injury in the Wakefield game.

Dale Laughton will not need a reconstructive operation on his nose - which also took a hammering against Trinity - but he will need another week's rest before returning. For Warrington, only their hooker, Danny Farrar, is missing from the team that beat London last week.

There is an abundance of matches between top-five contenders still to be played and typical of the genre is the one between the leaders, Bradford, and fifth-placed Castleford at Odsal tomorrow night.

The two drew at Wheldon Road earlier this season, so the Bulls will be relieved if they can add Robbie Paul and Mike Forshaw to their squad, as well as Nathan McAvoy and Michael Withers, who have already been earmarked as fit to return.

Cas, quite inspired at times against Wigan last week, not surprisingly keep the same starting XIII.

Wigan, with Denis Betts one of several players rested as part of Andy Goodway's policy of squad rotation, are at home to Salford tomorrow afternoon and should maintain their momentum, despite the return of Steve Blakeley for the visitors.

So should Gateshead at a Huddersfield club still reeling from their mauling at Leeds last week and from the apparent desire of Bobbie Goulding to get away.

The Thunder hope to have Danny Lee back and could give a debut to their loan signing from Leeds, Gareth Carvell, but have a doubt about their reliable goal-kicker, Ian Herron, who has a back injury.