Cup matches to help Aston work out best side

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SHEFFIELD Eagles first team squad players will be given four games to lay claim to a regular starting spot.

Coach Mark Aston will use the Northern Rail Cup group games, which kicks off the season in just over a week, to work out his first choice 17.

With 23 fit senior players, Aston faces some tough personnel decisions before the start of the league competition next month. Aston insists the league, and not the cup, is his top priority.

“We have a big first team squad and the focus will be on them in the Northern Rail,” he said. “The first four games of the Rail Cup everyone will play and I want to know by the first home game in the league against Swinton what is my best team.”

Rail Cup gets on track with a trip to Championship One club Workington Town on Sunday February 12. The Eagles will also face Leigh Centurions and York Knights from the Championship and a derby with Doncaster in the competition, which was officially launched yesterday.

In two pre-season games against Wakefield and Doncaster, performances were patchy and that’s resulted in some bruising training sessions over the past week.

“When you are playing friendlies and you’re changing the team around, it’s difficult to get the continuity,” acknowledged Aston. “We need a bit more continuity – people will have more time out there in the Rail Cup. The quality of some of the things we put out against Doncaster still wasn’t good enough.

“We have upped the intensity of what we are doing in training. The lads are knocking spots off each other and feeling it.

“It’s all systems go to prepare the lads for a tough trip to Workington in the first game.”