Mat Clark and Dougie Flockhart could both make their Championship debut for the season in tomorrow’s home clash against Bedford Blues.
Centre Clark played half a game in midweek for Blackheath and will come into contention for a place in the side as will goal-kicking full-back/wing Flockhart, injured in the penultimate warm-up game at Coulman Road in August.
Director of rugby Clive Griffiths was playing his cards close to his chest yesterday as to whether either will feature, but he is known to be concerned at the poor success rate of kicks at goal in recent games.
Fears that utility-back Charlie Foley picked up another injury in Friday’s defeat at Richmond have been allayed, while flanker Jack Ram will make his first home appearance of the season.
Bedford will check in at Castle Park tomorrow flying high in third place.
“It’s not a surprise to see them up there because they made some good signings during the summer, including the likes of back-rower Alex Rae and former England scrum-half Lee Dickson from Northampton,” said Griffiths.
“They’ve also got a 6ft 11in tall second-rower so we’ve worked a lot on our lineout defence this week.
“Former Welsh international Chris Czekaj has been in good form at full-back and scored a hat trick in their last game and centre Michael le Bourgeois always plays well against us, so they’ve got threats throughout the side.”
He added: “Obviously everyone is disappointed by recent results and we had hoped to have turned the corner going into what will be three very tough games, but no one has let their head go down.
“Two of our recent defeats have been the result of late tries and you could say that we’ve been the architects of our own downfall at times this season.
“We’ve not only missed kicks at goal but we’ve also made too many handling mistakes – we were in double figures at Richmond – and lost lineouts at key times.”
Having lost both games against Knights last season Griffiths says the Blues will be out for revenge.
“They come into the game having won three of their last four league games while we have lost three of our last four, so we’ve experienced different fortunes.
“We’ve not panicked because we know we could easily have won seven from eight rather than four from eight. The only game which we probably never looked like winning was the home game against Cornish Pirates because we gave them too much of a start.
“We haven’t suddenly become a bad side overnight and we’ve only lost one more game than Bedford. We just need players to play to their potential and to do the basics, such as handling the ball, better than we have been doing.”
Former NRL and Super League star Corey Paterson, who has joined the club on trial, has impressed Griffiths in his first week at Castle Park but is unlikely to be considered for selection until the resumption of the B&I Cup campaign next month.