THREE of Barrow’s big name close season signings are ready to return to action against Keighley Cougars this Sunday (kick-off 2pm).
Forwards Jarrad Stack and Tom Walker, along with flying winger Brett Carter, will be aiming to put the visiting defence to the test when the sides lock horns at the JF Hornby Stadium.
Also making a welcome return is full-back Ryan Fieldhouse, who has recovered from a groin injury.
However, exciting half-back Lewis Charnock, who has a rib injury, will not be risked with either Dan Abram or Brad Marwood partnering Jamie Dallimore in the pivotal role.
Raiders coach Paul Crarey has seen his side go unbeaten in pre-season and is keen to see that run continue, but he is wary of Keighley with very few points separating them in recent encounters.
He is also aware of the impact half-back Matty Beharrell, who Barrow were considering at one stage, and hooker James Feather can have on games.
But Crarey is seeking that win and put right some of the wrongs that occurred last week against Coventry Bears.
Although Barrow did win 36-18, a much-changed starting side caused some concern, with Crarey saying: “We are not going to experiment this week, we are just going to run with the side that we feel will get the job done and get the win.
“I was a bit disappointed in the way we started the game last week, we didn’t really take it by the scruff of the neck and we didn’t play with any enthusiasm, our line speed was pretty slow which allowed them to get between defenders. We have worked on that this week.
“It won’t be easy against Keighley, they’re flying. I think it will be a massive test for us mentally to get over last week’s ill prepared performance.”
He added: “We have got to be good across the board and be patient. Sometimes the fault with our team is that we think we can score on every set, but sometimes it is about building pressure rather than scoring on every set, so we have got to learn that.
“It is early days for us, we are a bit off from where we need to be but we have been really good in the other two games (against Oldham and Whitehaven) and last week we just took a little step backwards so this week we need to take a step forwards.”
Crarey is happy to see Stack, Walker, Carter and Fieldhouse back in contention especially with the start of season looming large.
However, Fieldhouse may be switched to centre at some point to give former Barrow Island amateur Luke Cresswell some game time.
“We are just glad we have got some bodies back, “ said Crarey.
“We need to get our senior players up and running and get some game time into them.”
Talking about the return of Fieldhouse, Crarey added: “It is nothing with what Luke has done, he will play some part in the game. We might even try Ryan Fieldhouse in the centre because he’s got great feet, he’s strong and quick as well. He reads the game brilliantly and talks well so it is an option for us.
“They are both very good players Luke is finding his feet in the game and Ryan is very versatile.”
Keighley have had a great pre-season and edged Bradford Bulls 25-24 last week thanks to a late Beharrell drop kick in a game where the Cougars were 12 points adrift at one stage.