Salford only had 17 players fit in entire squad to face Castleford, admits Ian Watson

Salford coach Ian Watson revealed that only 17 players in his whole squad were available to face Castleford and joked about bringing assistant Martin Gleeson out of retirement.

The Red Devils lost 24-6 to the Tigers at the AJ Bell Stadium on Friday night.

Salford will now be forced to compete in the Qualifiers, with it being mathematically impossible to reach the top-eight now.

Speaking after the game, Watson said: “We had 17 players available and two of them shouldn’t be playing at the minute because they are constantly getting jabbed up.

“The players are just putting their hands up to play at the minute. It is a good opportunity for guys to get games under their belts. Levy [Nzoungou] has come in, Jake [Bibby] and Derrell [Olpherts] are getting games in and I know that will be good for us going forward.

“Everyone in the squad who didn’t play is out injured, apart from Gavin Bennion, who has been on loan. We sent him out on loan because he needed to get game time for the eights but we hit a couple of injuries on the back of that.

“If we would have made the Super 8s this year, it would have been like winning a Grand Final, but the main objective at the start of the year was retaining our Super League status so we can build the club going forward. We are trying to restructure things as a club.”

Watson even joked about bringing his assistant coach, Martin Gleeson, 38, out of retirement.

He added: “He broke his ribs in training so he is nowhere near at the moment!

“We were just practicing some attack and Rob Lui has come over the top of him and he popped his rib cartilage.

“Me and Gleese were 18th and 19thman for the game! We were down to 17 bodies, there is no point in dressing it up. It was what it was, but the boys have done outstanding. Their effort and commitment to the cause has been fantastic, especially after a tough loss at Hull KR last week.

“I thought about making a comeback until Lama [Tasi] hit me and I injured my ankle, so I think I will try and stay away from it if I can!”

Earlier this week, Salford announced the signing of recently released Manly Sea Eagles half-back Jackson Hastings until the end of the season.

But Watson revealed that the Red Devils would not have won the battle for Hastings if it wasn’t for ex-owner Marwan Koukash.

He said: “If Marwan didn’t step up, we wouldn’t have got him.

“I’m just glad it has been done and that is a massive credit to Marwan. People knock him all of the time but he put his hand in his pocket when we desperately needed it.

“He stood up, paid with his own money and there is someone else who we are potentially looking at that might be able to go through, so hopefully that comes off.”

Watson also revealed that Luke Burgess could return from injury for next Saturday’s clash against Catalans Dragons.

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