Eagles aim to compound Vikings’ troubles

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SHEFFIELD Eagles boss Mark Aston hopes that Widnes Vikings players will find it difficult to focus on the Championship play-offs.

Many of the current squad have been told they are not wanted when the Vikings step up to play in the Super League next year.

“I guess that Widnes can’t wait for the season to end because it is all about preparation for the Super League now,” said Aston. “It’s very different for us. We want to meet the challenges and make sure our season goes on as long as we can.”

Last week Widnes coach Denis Betts told 13 of the squad - including former Eagles centre Tangi Ropati – they will be axed at the end of the season. It’s left the squad in turmoil and home fans booed a lacklustre performance in the 44-4 home defeat by Featherstone in the final round of league games. Some of those axed players will be in the squad to face the Eagles in the first play-off elimination round at Bramall Lane, tomorrow, kick-off 7.45pm.

That could open the way for the Eagles to gain their first win over Widnes since they were promoted to the Championship in 2007. There is also the prospect of making their first Grand Final – if they can win through three knockout rounds.

Sheffield United agreeing to the game being played at Bramall Lane is a big plus for Aston.

He said: “We’re playing at a great stadium – being at home counts. We have let ourselves down in big games this year - when we played Featherstone, Leigh and Widnes – we haven’t hit the straps and we’re a proud set of guys and we want to put our best performance forward.”

Half-back Simon Brown is the Eagles main injury worry with a dead leg. Utility man Dane McDonald was also taken off at half-time against York to prevent him aggravating a shoulder problem. Centre Menzie Yere starts a two-match suspension.