England back rower Mike McMeeken is set to hand Castleford Tigers a timely injury boost ahead of their final regular season game at Widnes Vikings on Sunday.
McMeeken has missed the last five games with a hamstring injury, but has trained all week and should be back in the team for the trip to the Halton Stadium.
His return has come at a good time for the Tigers as they have definitely lost two forwards for the match – one for the rest of the season – while a third faces a race against time to be fit for the contest.
Head coach Daryl Powell told the Express: “Matt Cook looks set to be out for the season after he has torn his bicep.
“Grant Millington’s out with a hamstring injury. He’ll be out two or three weeks. He’s had a scan and got a low grade two injury so hopefully it’s not too bad.
“We’ll have a fitness test late-ish for Jesse Sene-Lefao, who also had to come off last week.
“But we should have Mike McMeeken back this week, he’s trained and looked okay. We’ll have to have a look at where we’re at today to start picking a team.”
After the 32-18 defeat to Huddersfield last week, Powell admitted he would have liked to have made further changes to his team, but the lack of numbers has left him short of options.
He explained: “I can’t make a lot of changes because we’ve got that many injuries.
“I certainly would have made some, there’s no question about that as some of the performances were nowhere near good enough. But you have to pick somebody else and we’re not massively deep in terms of the squad at the moment with people fit so I can’t change it too much.
“Hopefully over the next two, three, four weeks we’re going to get some players back, which will strengthen a little bit.”
Tigers’ opponents are rock bottom in the Betfred Super League and heading for the Middle 8s, but Powell and his players will not be underestimating them.
He said: “It’s been a tough year for Widnes, they’re at the bottom of the table and they haven’t been able to get any consistency. But they are at home where they are more difficult to play against and they’ve got some good players.
“They trouble you with their ball movement and their ability to play to the edges.
“Mellor’s a good player and can put some footwork on that causes teams trouble and they’ve got some good offloaders in there as well.
“We’ve got to be mindful of the threats they will throw at us, but we’ve just got to focus on ourselves this week and get back to playing as we can. It’s making sure we deliver a performance that’s befitting of our ability.
“Last week partially was, but most of the game was way below what we are capable of delivering.”
Powell added: “Having some momentum to go into the Super 8s would be handy, but it’s just about getting the two points really and not getting distracted by anything other than our performance.
“We need two points from the game and then we move on. There’s a week’s break for the Challenge Cup final and then we are into the Super 8s.
“We need to play well, don’t worry about anything too much, just play well and win and we can then have a breather before moving on from there.”