Busy Huddersfield Giants boss Rick Stone has admitted the start of this week is all about patching up his side for Friday’s home Super League clash against Widnes Vikings.
The 50-year-old Australian was already down on troops ahead of Sunday’s 36-20 defeat at Salford Red Devils, with England international winger Jermaine McGillvary forced to pull out on the eve of the game with a back problem to join the likes of Michael Lawrence (knee), Jake Mamo (foot), Martyn Ridyard (shoulder), Tom Symonds (knee) and Jordan Turner (hamstring) on the sidelines.
Then during the game Sebastine Ikahihifo (head knock), Nathan Mason (dead leg) and Aaron Murphy (toe ligament problem) were forced to leave the field, while several of their teammates were also struggling by the end.
And even though Stone is hopeful the week off will mean McGillvary will be fit for Friday night, the head coach knows some others may be bigger doubts.
“The start of this week is all about taking stock and seeing who’ll be fit and who won’t,” admitted Stone.
“We lost Jerry just a day before the game as a result of the back problem he picked up against Wigan the other week – that was disappointing because he’s been really good for us, and we had hoped in the build-up to Salford he’d be fit to play.
“And then, by the end of Sunday’s game we didn’t have a fit player left on the bench.
“Because of the protocol surrounding head knocks, I don’t expect we’ll be seeing Seb on Friday night, while I’m not sure at this stage about Aaron and Nathan.
“It could be the short turn-around this week could beat them.
“But, hopefully, Jerry will be good to go on Friday, as will Martyn Ridyard.”
One positive for the Giants at the AJ Bell Stadium was the debut of Jordan Rankin, who looked assured at full-back and is set to continue in the position against the Vikings.
“He didn’t have that many chances, but he was pretty safe all game,” added Stone.
“Because he’s only been here a week, one of the first goals we set him was to be error-free, which he did pretty well.
“If I was being critical, it was the fact he could have done a bit better trying to stop the two 40-20 kicks from Michael Dobson.
“Whether full-back will be his home in all the time he’s here, I’m not sure yet.
“But for the moment, it’s the best spot for him in the side.”