BATLEY BULLDOGS have a mounting injury list to deal with ahead of this weekend’s trip to Leigh Centurions.
Matt Diskin’s squad is down to the bare bones after a number of blows in recent weeks, with Lewis Galbraith the latest to be ruled out.
The centre or winger picked up a knee injury in last weekend’s 14-14 draw against York which could see him miss the remainder of the season.
Prop forward Joe Taira’s campaign has already come to an end with the knee injury that he suffered the previous week at Swinton.
Winger Niall Walker and second-row Paul Brearley also picked up hamstring knocks in that game and remain out of action.
That leaves them lacking in both of those positions, with flyer Wayne Reittie not yet ready to return and Alex Bretherton described by Diskin as “touch and go”.
Their problems in the back-row will be further exacerbated by the absence of Dane Manning for the trip to Leigh, after he was handed a one-match ban for a dangerous throw in their Swinton loss.
The Bulldogs are also without the services of experienced scrum-half Dom Brambani, who remains a couple of weeks away from a return.
“We’re doing it tough at the moment, particularly when the injuries we’re getting are in positions where we don’t have a lot of depth,” admitted Diskin.
“We’re a little bit threadbare with the squad at the moment but I’ve got confidence in the people that come in.”
Next weekend’s 1895 Cup semi-final clash at Sheffield Eagles is on the horizon but the focus for now is on the trip to Leigh Sports Village on Sunday (kick-off 3pm).
Batley will be looking to overturn a Centurions side who sit in fourth place in the Championship table and have won five of their last six league matches.
“It’s going to be a tough task, they’re flying at the moment,” said the Bulldogs boss.
“They’re bringing players in left, right and centre for fun so they’ve got a very different budget to what we’ve got. But we’ll go there and look for a really solid performance heading into that semi-final the week after.”
In contrast to Leigh’s form, Batley are winless in their last six, but they picked up an important point last time out against York.
On the back of a five-match losing streak, Diskin was pleased with some of the improvements made to take a share of the spoils against the division’s second-placed side.
“We worked really hard and York struggled to break us down,” he said.
“As regards to effort and attitude, it was a massive improvement. We showed some glimpses of where we can be if we concentrate.
However, he added: “It’s a point lost from our point of view. We were in some good positions to see the game out.
“We went to the posts for the one-pointer and we had someone run into touch, we kicked out on the full a few times, and I think the referee gifted them eight points from that game.
“Our kicks weren’t great, the end of sets weren’t great, and that needs to be better because you can’t give teams seven-tackle sets. We made some positive steps today but our problem is backing that up week-to-week, so let’s see how we respond next week.”
Nothing could separate the Bulldogs and the Knights on the field but there are 16 points between them in the league table, and Diskin acknowledged that the gap should not be that big.
“With the quality of people we’ve got on board, they know that we should be sitting higher than we are,” he said.
“We deserve to be where we are. If you make as many errors as we do, you deserve to be where you are in the table.
“When we’re in good position we’ve got to throw the ball about, we want to test teams out, and we’re okay with errors there.
“But coming out of your own end, you can’t accept some of the basic errors and we’ll be having a frank conversation about that.”