CH preview: Keighley v Batley (Sun)

Keighley Cougars coach Paul March has urged his squad to show solidarity as they battle to secure a place in the Kingstone Press Championship play-offs.

Keighley are five points behind eighth-placed Dewsbury Rams.

March said: “We’ve got difficult games coming up, starting with Batley, and we have to stick together and show character.”

Batley Bulldogs coach John Kear is without Byron Smith (broken hand) and Paul Mennell (dislocated shoulder), while Mark Applegarth is in doubt after suffering a reaction to a recent knee injury during training on Tuesday.

Kear said: “We’re doing it tough at the moment, there’s no doubt about that.

“We’ve had five league losses and there’s a concern about that, but it’s not unusual in rugby league – teams have flat spots in the season.

“Ours is here and now, and it’s tough while you’re in it – but we showed against Workington that the effort and application was far, far better. The players showed they were prepared to start working their way out of it.

“These players have got to realise that just as we’ve lost five in a row, earlier in the year we’d won seven out of eight.

“There’s no crisis and I haven’t lost faith in any of the players. What you’ve got to do is roll your sleeves up and work even harder.”

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