SHEFFIELD Sharks are hopeful of having two key players back in their line up for tomorrow night’s match at league leaders Newcastle Eagles.
Centre Justin Dobbins has missed the last two matches with a back injury and point guard Jimmy Langhurst has been unavailable through issues with his working visa and registration problems with the BBL.
However, both could return for the tough trip to the north-east, which will the first of three games - including the two-legged BBL Trophy semi-final - between the sides in the space of 21 days.
Player-coach Atiba Lyons will be desperate to have at least one of them available as he has been rotating just six senior players during the victory against Cheshire Jets on January 6 and then the defeat last Friday against Guildford Heat.
And the Eagles match is also the start of a brutal six-game stretch which sees the Sharks take on title contenders Worcester Wolves, Leicester Riders and Plymouth Raiders as well as the Eagles.
Newcastle were the season’s first winners of silverware last Sunday when they easily beat Plymouth in the final of the BBL Cup - won for the previous two years by the Sharks. Former Sheffield player Andrew Bridge, who as captain picked up his 15th winner’s medal with the club, said the Sharks have badly missed the presence of Dobbins and Langhurst.
“We’ve played them a couple of times and won both games, but I thought they’d turned the corner before Christmas and were playing pretty well,” he said. “But the injury to Dobbins and being without Jimmy Langhurst has hurt them. Losing Langhurst means that Nate [Reinking] has to handle the ball more, and although he’s a great point guard, his better position is probably at the two-spot.”
Eagles player-coach Fab Flournoy is hoping Langhurts is still out. He said: “They are particularly hard to beat when Jimmy Langhurst plays well and they have certainly missed him.”