Eagles cash in on Widnes terminations

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SHEFFIELD Eagles are likely to make a bid to sign former centre James Ford who is being released by Widnes Vikings.

Ford is one of four told they will not be needed when the club moves to the Super League next season. Two others - half-back Anthony Thackeray and hooker Kirk Netherton – could be targets for coach Mark Aston.

“We have been contacted about this but it’s early days yet and the players have only just been told,” said Aston. “James Ford was with us for a time and we know him well. Anthony Thackeray is a player I have always had a rating on and Kirk Netherton is another.”

The cull comes after a poor start to the season by Widnes who won a licence to play in the Super League last month. The four players are under contract but would be allowed to leave before the end of the current season. Ford joined the Eagles from Featherstone Rovers in 2006 after a loan spell the previous season. He scored 48 tries in 77 games before joining Castleford Tigers in 2009 and moved to Widnes the start of last season.

The centre has struggled to reproduce his Sheffield form and played only 12 games for Widnes last season. Thackeray is the brother of former Eagles’ winger Ashley and his release is a surprise with the half-back one of the highest rated in the Championship. The Eagles has been relying on dual-registration players for cover at both half-back and centre this season.