Problems mount for Dons ahead of Batley trip

Richard Wilkinson
Richard Wilkinson

Dons boss Gary Thornton admits it is getting close to the point of no return in the club's battle to retain their Championship status ahead of tomorrow's game at second-bottom Batley Bulldogs (3pm).

“If Batley beat us that would put them ten points clear of us with only ten games to go,” said Thornton yesterday.

“That would leave us needing to win at least five of those games and that is not taking into account any games the teams above us win.”

The prospects of the Dons recording their first win of the season, against a club where Thornton both played and cut his teeth as a coach, continue to be affected by matters beyond his control.

Scrum-half Richard Wilkinson (leg) will again be missing and Sean Leaf announced his retirement on medical grounds earlier this week. Centre Danny Cowling is rated very doubtful.

Half-back Danny Nicklas hasn’t trained this week due to work commitments and may not come into contention.

Prop Matt Groat completes his three-match suspension and Pasqualle Dunn has returned home to New Zealand due to personal reasons.

To add to his problems, dual-registered Hull FC hooker James Cunningham has joined Hunslet.

“I’ve got a hooker and a utility player lined up early next week but we’ve got to go with what we’ve got this week,” said Thornton.

Batley haven’t won at home in the league since the opening day of the season and have lost their last seven games.

“They are probably a better side than their record would suggest," said Thornton. “I think they’ve had injury problems, particularly at half-back."