Panther Leather set for return

Johnny Leather is set to return to the Blackpool squad after missing last week’s trip to Headingley with a mouth injury.

“Things have settled down and he’ll be available this week,” confirmed Panthers coach Martin Crompton.

“We put in a fantastic effort last week, especially in the first 40 minutes. We could actually have been in front at half time.

“We looked very dangerous with the ball in hand and we caused a bit of panic in the Leeds defence, and we’ve took a lot from that performance.”

Crompton confirmed that he is operating with an almost full strength squad. “When you’re flying high and doing so well everyone wants to be part of a it. The treatment room is empty and that’s a nice place to be in.”

And the Blackpool coach insists Gateshead will eventually find their feet in Co-operative Championship One. “They’re struggling at the moment and they’re in a rebuilding process,” he said. “It’s a very difficult set of circumstances. You try to stay positive and I’m sure, given time, that Chris Hood can turn things around.”

Thunder travel to the west coast without four players who were given suspensions by the RFL this week.

Joe Brown, Michael Brown and Gareth Barron were all suspended for one game, while loose forward Matt Barron received a three-match ban.

However, director of rugby Chris Hood is boosted by the return of Will Bate and Matt Garside.

Hood said: “For those people who are watching us, and I’m sure if you ask the other coaches too, the score lines aren’t reflecting the games we’re playing. Teams are being shocked by how well we’re playing, but we also know that we weren’t at the races in the last 20 minutes last week.

“When you’re in this situation it’s very rare that you get the rub of the green, but you’ve just got to keep battling through it.

“Blackpool are a good team, and I know how dangerous they are. Without being disrespectful to anyone else, they’re putting in a strong claim to be champions elect.”

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