Breaking down Castleford Tigers’ squad situation after more key injury blows

Aaron Bower
Craig Lingard

Castleford Tigers head coach Craig Lingard - Alamy

It may only be three weeks into the new season, but Castleford Tigers are one of the worst-affected clubs when it comes to injuries.

And matters were compounded further on Thursday when head coach Craig Lingard admitted he has lost two more members of his squad due to injury. Muizz Mustapha is facing an extended spell on the sidelines with a knee injury in training, while Lingard also admitted another unnamed member of his 21-man squad failed a fitness test on Thursday morning.

“Muizz Mustapha has picked up a PCL injury in training so he is off to see the specialist. It won’t be a week or two, weeks on end with that one depending on the outcome of the specialist’s report,” Lingard said. “Someone else has failed a fitness test from that 21-man squad. We currently have ten men on the sidelines.”

Here’s the lowdown on Castleford’s squad situation as they prepare to face Huddersfield on Friday night.

Who’s definitely injured?

Mustapha joins a growing list of players on the sidelines due to injury. Captain Paul McShane has not featured at all in 2024 thus far due to a hamstring injury, though is return is anticipated within the next couple of weeks.

Jason Qareqare is facing a slightly longer stint on the sidelines with an ankle problem, and Mustapha now looks set to miss a number of games with that knee problem.

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George Griffin remains absent with a concussion, as does Danny Richardson, who has suffered with illness alongside his head knock and has lost a significant amount of weight, meaning he is only just back in training.

And that’s not all. Josh Hodson and Will Tate also are still on the sidelines, leaving Castleford extremely light on bodies just weeks into the new campaign.

Who else is missing?

There is the mystery, unnamed player who Lingard said failed a fitness test on Thursday, meaning someone in the 21-man squad to face Huddersfield is definitely missing.

Liam Watts is still suspended, too, meaning Mustapha’s absence deals Castleford another huge blow in the pack.

What does it mean for Friday?

In essence, that large parts of the Castleford squad picks itself.

The three-quarter line is somewhat self-explanatory with Josh Simm, Jack Broadbent, Sam Wood and Innes Senior all featuring, you would expect. The one potential change there could be if Lingard continues with Alex Mellor at centre, after he withdrew Broadbent moments into the second half at Warrington last week.

But Mellor’s presence may be needed in a pack that is looking very light.

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With Griffin, Mustapha and Watts out, the first inclusion of 2024 for Sylvester Namo is extremely timely. Charbel Tasipale also returns to the squad after a slight knock last week – but with so many middles out, could the door now be ajar for Albert Vete?

His Castleford career looked over last year, with loan spells at Featherstone and Doncaster. There are, in all likelihood, still a few ahead of him in the pecking order such as Samy Kibula and Sam Hall, but things are becoming increasingly threadbare for the Tigers.

And that’s without bringing into consideration the identity of the player who failed that fitness test in training on Thursday.

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