St Helens set for absences but fitness boost confirmed vs Salford Red Devils

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St Helens travel to Salford Red Devils in the Super League.

EVERY single match between now and the end of season Grand Final showcase will be treated as a cup final.

Inconsistency among all the genuine contenders for the coveted title has thrown the race wide open and I can't remember the last time so many teams were still in the hunt at this time of the year.

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Champions St Helens are starting to move up on the rails and now lie in fourth spot but more importantly have a game in hand on 10 of their rivals, which include leaders Catalans Dragons, Wigan Warriors and Challenge Cup finalist Leigh Leopards.

Boss Paul Wellens has certainly drawn the small straw at this stage of the campaign in terms of injuries and goes into Sunday's Super League encounter at Salford left with no other option than to once more place his faith in some of the younger members of the squad who so far have done an excellent job.

They include 23-year-old hooker and first team debutant Jake Burke who has been in impressive form at reserve team level.

Centre Mark Percival returns to the squad but among the walking wounded are experienced campaigners likes of Sione Mata'utia, Alex Walmsley, Joe Batchelor, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Ignatius Passi and Konrad Hurrell who picked up a calf injury against Leeds and will be absent for around four weeks.

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Meanwhile, Taylor Pemberton has joined York on loan for the remainder of the season.

Salford have lost their last six league and cup outings but Wellens is taking nothing for granted at a stadium where they have finished second best on the last couple of occasions.

He said: "The Red Devils will provide us with a tough challenge. They are a dangerous team in terms of attacking qualities and can hurt you if you are not at your best as we were last season."

Saints' squad: 1.Jack Welsby, 2. Tommy Makinson, 3. Will Hopoate, 4. Mark Percival, 6. Jonny Lomax, 7. Lewis Dodd, 9. James Roby, 10. Matty Lees, 13. Morgan Knowles, 16. Curtis Sironen,19. James Bell, 20. Dan Norman, 21. Ben Davies, 22. Sam Royle, 24. Lewis Baxter, 25. Tee Ritson, 28. Matthew Foster, 30. George Delaney, 34. Wesley Bruines, 35. Moses Mbye, 36. Jake Burns.

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