Cullen turns to youth for Wigan clash

Paul Cullen has named eight homegrown youngsters in his Widnes squad for their Challenge Cup clash with Wigan tomorrow.

Cullen finds his hands tied by an injury crisis that has hampered the Vikings season to date, and he is further hindered by the restrictions of on-loan players who are ineligible to play.

Prop Jim Gannon is the latest addition to the Widnes injury list which includes captain Mark Smith, back-up hooker Thomas Coyle and forwards Steve Pickersgill, Dave Allen and Gareth Haggerty.

Forward Alex Gerrard, 18, in his third year with the Vikings academy, is one of the eight home grown players named in the squad and becomes the 33rd player to represent the club this season.

Cullen said: “We’ve been forced to show our hand early in regard of our pool of talent at the club, but fortunately over the course of the past few seasons we’ve worked extremely hard behind the scenes to ensure that we had such resources in place at Widnes to do this. Our Academy system is a luxury that many of our Championship rivals do not have at their disposal.”

Widnes are without dual-registration quartet Chris Dean, Shaun Ainscough, Ben Davies and Liam Farrell, who could feature in the Wigan team against the side he has featured in for much of the season to date.

Loanees Jordan James and Kirk Netherton are also unavailable, while recent signing Daniel Heckenberg is still to make his debut for the club as he works towards match fitness.

Dean Gaskell, Dean Thompson and Jack Smith complete the list of missing personnel for Cullen’s men for the game which kicks off at 7.30pm on Saturday.

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