TONIGHT’S hosts Salford City Reds have been identified as one of the teams Wakefield Trinity Wildcats want to overhaul this season.
Wildcats – who suffered a four-point deduction for entering administration before the campaign began – are second from bottom in Engage Super League, two places and three points adrift of their latest foes.
Both teams have won five out of their 15 league games and without the penalty, Wildcats would trail Salford only on points difference.
Reds won comfortably when the sides met at Wakefield earlier in the season and Wildcats boss John Kear said: “They beat us 32-8. It was a comprehensive victory and they played really well.
“I am sure they will see it as chance to post two points, but we have got certain aspirations and one of those is to climb up the table and make sure we are not in the bottom two.
“The bottom two at the minute are the two teams who had points deducted, Crusaders and ourselves.
“We want to try and overhaul one of the teams that started on zero points and this is an opportunity to take a step towards that.”
Wildcats slumped 42-22 at home to Catalan Dragons last week and Kear described that as “our worst performance of the season”.
He said: “I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. This year we have been really committed to defence. We might have looked a bit scruffy in defence, but there has been a scramble effect with everyone really working hard for each other.
“That wasn’t really there last week and that’s something we have to address and improve upon drastically.”
Despite last Sunday’s setback, Kear feels his side can be proud of how they have performed so far this year.
“People think if you are not winning, you are inconsistent,” he said. “That’s not true.
“You have got performance indicators and if you meet those, you are pretty consistent.
“We’ve played 15 rounds of Super League and I’ve been satisfied with how we have performed in 10 of those.
“I think we have been pretty consistent with our performance indicators, but we did let ourselves down last week.”
Stuart Howarth is due to undergo a scan on a knee injury and has been ruled out of tonight’s game. Josh Veivers is sidelined due to illness and Dale Morton – who underwent a knee reconstruction last year – will be rested, along with Matty Wildie.
Paul King, who was included in last week’s initial 19 but did not make the matchday squad, has also been ill and misses out.
Aussie forward Jarred Hickey will make his debut and half-back Gareth Moore could come in for his first Super League appearance, following his move from Batley Bulldogs.
Luke George and Julien Rinaldi are available after injury and Matt Blaymire and Josh Griffin are also vying for a recall.
Wayne Godwin could return for Reds after a shoulder injury, with Luke Adamson and Jack Spencer also set to feature while Stephen Wild drops out from the side beaten at Bradford last week.
Off the field, the City Reds have confirmed little-known Australian Matt Parish as their new coach.
The 42-year-old is currently working as assistant coach with the New South Wales side and will take up his new post in July.
Salford City Reds: from Patten, Broughton, Ratchford, Gleeson, Henry, Smith, Holdsworth, Cashmere, Sneyd, Boyle, Nero, Anderson, Jewitt, Neal, Paleaaesina, Sidlow, Spencer, Adamson, Godwin.
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats: from Blaymire, George, Dean, Murphy, G Johnson, Moore, Lee, Korkidas, Rinaldi, P Johnson, Henderson, Mariano, Morrison, McCarthy, Higgins, Amor, Griffin, Hickey, Davey.
Referee: James Child (Dewsbury).
Kick-off: Tonight, 8pm.