Eight out but still Fylde aim to prey on Hawks

Chris Johnson switches to centre
Chris Johnson switches to centre
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Fylde RFC player-coach Paul Arnold says he is expecting a win from his side against Henley Hawks at the Woodlands tomorrow, despite the team missing eight first-team regulars.

However, Arnold says the team will still have to work hard to get the better of a side that is bottom of National League One and staring relegation in the face, having lost nine of their last 10 matches.

For a variety of reasons, Fylde will be without Adam Lewis, Warren Spragg, Jordan Dorrington, Tom Lavelle, Joe Robinson, Evan Stewart, Dave Fairbrother and Phil Mills.

Five of those players are injured, while the others are unavailable.

Stewart is required for school duties, Fairbrother has commitments with the Royal Navy and Mills is on a skiing holiday.

In addition, Anthony Bingham and Ralph Dowds, who have been pencilled into the probable team for tomorrow, need to pass fitness tests.

Centre Dowds has been nursing a back injury, while Bingham has been out for several weeks with a calf injury but could be ready for a return.

Tom Jeffers makes his home debut for Fylde on the wing, with Tom Morton playing at fly-half.

That means a switch to centre for prolific goal-kicker Chris Johnson to partner Scott Rawlings.

Arnold, who will lock the scrum tomorrow with Nick Gray, said: “With the side that has been picked we should be expecting a win against Henley.

“I watched a couple of videos of Henley, and although they are bottom it is not as if they have been getting hammered every week.”

It is two weeks since Fylde’s last National One fixture, the 24-21 loss at relegation-threatened Cinderford, and the stop-start programme continues as tomorrow’s encounter is followed by another fortnight’s break before Fylde travel to Darlington Mowden Park on April 2.

Fylde have no match on Easter Saturday, though the annual Brendan Hanavan Memorial Match against Preston Grasshoppers will take place at Lightfoot Green on Good Friday.

This year, it could double up as a rearranged second XV fixture after a scheduled meeting between the clubs was postponed because of bad weather,

Arnold used the break as an opportunity to give his players a week off training after the Cinderford match and he added: “The players should be feeling refreshed.

“I spent some of the time since watching videos of the opposition and looking at other players.

“We are hoping to announce details of players we have signed to contracts in the next few weeks.”

Back in training this week, the Fylde players were fitted with GPS fitness monitors.

The data these compiled are to be examined and will help the club to play for pre-season training.

Fylde (versus Henley, probable) Briers; Brennand, Johnson, S Rawlings, Jeffers; Morton, Nicholls; Birchall, Loney, Griffiths, Arnold, Gray, Goodman, Vernon, Beaumont. Replacements: Wild, Burtonwood, G Rawlings, Bingham, ano. Kick-off 3pm.