Smith blow adds to Widnes injury crisis

Widnes captain Mark Smith has been ruled out of action for up to six weeks with a fractured cheekbone.

Smith joins no fewer than ten team mates on the sidelines, while the Vikings have also seen several of their dual-registration and loan players recalled by their parent clubs.

Vikings Head coach Paul Cullen said: “In my entire playing and coaching career I’ve experienced many an injury crisis, but nothing on the scale of what we’re going through at the moment. 

“To lose our club captain is a massive blow.  Mark is obviously a key player for us and gives us both direction and leadership on the pitch.”

Smith picked up the injury in the first minute of last weekend’s 42-38 defeat at home to Toulouse.

“My options have also been further reduced for this weekend’s selection process, because all of our dual-registration and loan players are cup-tied. 

“The squad has proved to be extremely resilient through the many periods of adversity this season, and once again we’ll be looking for that same level of character, team spirit and work ethic to pull us through.”

The Vikings this week signed former Harlequins prop Daniel Heckenberg until the end of the season, but he is still a couple of weeks away from full match fitness.

Smith joins an injury list that already includes props Steve Pickersgill and Gareth Haggerty, both out with long term injuries, scrum half James Webster, full back James Ford and loose forward Chris Gerrard, as well as Dave Allen, Dean Gaskell, Matt Strong and Toa Kohe-Love.

Widnes are due to host French side Lezignan in the Challenge Cup on Saturday, depending on how their visitors are affected by the recent air traffic problems caused by a volcanic eruption in Iceland.

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