Youngsters are set to be given a chance to shine in the third of Castleford Tigers’ pre-season games at Doncaster on Sunday, but head coach Daryl Powell is also including several of his big-hitters in need of a run out.
Powell will name a mix and match side of tried and untried players and wants to see them put their hand up to indicate to him that they want a place in the 17-man squad for the opening Super League game next month.
While the Cas boss has many of his starting players in mind for the Wakefield game on February 8 he admits there are still a number of spots up for grabs.
He told the Express: “I’m pretty open at the minute.
“There’s obviously some players who will be pencilled in straight away, but there’s quite a few places open for selection so these three pre-season games coming up are pretty important for players to show what they can do.
“Competition for places is what we aim for and it’s what we’ve got again.
“It worked for us massively last year, particularly early on in the season and pretty much up to half-way. It needs to work for us again and that’s the reason you have a big squad.”
Among the senior players to be included for the trip to the Keepmoat Stadium is prop Ryan Boyle, who will be returning after a knee injury put paid to his 2014 campaign last April.
Powell is eager to see how he goes in his comeback from serious injury and keen to see Boyle get back to the impressive form he showed for Cas in 2013.
Powell said: “I’m looking forward to seeing Boyley play as it’s obviously been a long time out of action for him with his knee injuries.
“It’s a big game for him, but I think he’s ready to play.
“I’ll definitely use some of the young kids at Doncaster, but based on what happened last week there’ll be a few more senior players in there than I was going to use.
“There’s a few boys who need another hit so we’ll have some of our better players out there, the selected ones who I think need to play again after last week.
“Andy Lynch will back up, Jake Webster will be on the bench and Luke Gale will be on the bench, Liam Finn and Ben Roberts will play along with Michael Channing, Ashley Gibson and Jordan Tansey so we’re going to have a lot of good quality players in there.
“It will be a bit of a mix, but will be pretty strong.”
Powell revealed that Michael Shenton would not play at Doncaster, but the skipper would return to action against Widnes on January 25.
He added: “Shenny’s come back having been on tour and needed a little bit of a break. Having him back in there will be outstanding.
“He’ll be another week and will play against Widnes.”