Injuries to key men add to Widnes woe

James Gordon

Photo courtesy of Richard Long

Widnes are without five key players as they welcome Batley to the Halton Stadium in the Championship on Friday evening.

Star performers Jack Owens, Jordan Johnstone and Danny Craven, captain Hep Cahill and top try scorer Ryan Ince are all missing through illness or injury.

It means Kieron Purtill has had to draft in another youngster, Jacob Dugdale, in his 19-man squad as the Vikings’ threadbare squad is stretched to its limit.

If selected, Dugdale will be the 32nd player – and 21st academy product – to play for Widnes this season.

Batley won the reverse fixture 20-18, which was only Widnes’ second defeat of the season.

The Vikings have managed just four wins from their nine league games since – having won seven of the eight prior – and are still nervously looking over their shoulder at the relegation battle.

Widnes 19-man squad: Brand, J Chapelhow, T Chapelhow, Dean, Dugdale, Farnworth, Freeman, Ganson, Gelling, Gilmore, Hansen, Hatton, Leuluai, Lyons, Norman, Roby, Walker, Walsh, Wilde.

Batley 19-man squad: Scott, Smeaton, Campbell, Jouffret, Brambani, Leak, Lillycrop, Manning, Downs, Brown, Ward, Dickinson, Bretherton, Walker, Wood, Brearley, Bienek, Butterworth, Broadbent.