A COMBINATION of injuries and suspension has left Saints with a massive mountain to climb in the top v second battle at Langtree Park on Friday.
Saints will tackle Leeds – Super League’s only other unbeaten side – definitely without injured Luke Walsh, Jordan Turner, Willie Manu and Alex Walmsley, plus the suspended Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Kyle Amor and Jon Wilkin.
But Nathan Brown is hopeful that Gary Wheeler and Lance Hohaia will be the half back pairing.
But he will have to put a lot of weight on the shoulders of his young forwards this week.
Although there is good news with the likely return of young centre Mark Percival.
Brown said: “Percival is hopefully back; he has trained this week but we will see how he pulls through.
“We are going to have a look at Lance and Gary this week and see where that takes us. If they don’t come through then Duggie Charnock will partner Wello in the halves.
“Duggie has a good kicking game so we will wait and see.”
Nobody is being rested ahead of the following week’s Challenge Cup tie - but Brown is keen to see the test of a couple of the younger forwards’ mettle.
He said: “It is tough but the positives are we do get to see the Joe Greenwoods, Greg Richards and Anthony Walkers and see how they developed.
“Joe was a stand out when he went out against Wakefield and Anthony was one of our better players, Greg was solid.
“Playing against Leeds will be a big challenge for those guys.”
Although disappointed to lose two more players through suspension, Brown remained philosophical having taken a player-protection stance for the duration of the time he has coached in England.
“I have been fighting ever since I came here to care for the players, so I like the idea that players are being charged for certain tackles.
“Now we have seen players charged with tackles and the disciplinary committee is supporting them.
“Although you don’t want to see people charged with silly things where players are not really hurt, some of the things the review panel has done in the last month and supported by the disciplinary will be far better for the game long term.
“But we are disappointed to lose Kyle and Wilko, especially with people we have got out injured.
“The fact is we will see more consistency if one of our players is done (fouled) and that is all you can ask for,” Brown said.