Sheffiele Eagles prepare to welcome back influential skipper Matty James

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Sheffield Eagles are pinning their hopes on having skipper Matty James back in contention for Sunday’s crucial encounter at Rochdale.

James has been one of several injury victims, but coach Mark Aston remains hopeful of having one of his most consistent performers back as they attempt to distance themselves from the bottom two.

In his absence the Eagles recorded a victory at Swinton, but then suffered a heavy home defeat to Leigh.

Aston has always maintained that James is one of the first names on his team sheet, and knows his leadership could be crucial on Sunday.

“If you had seen Matty’s knees, then you would know what this game is about. They were pretty horrible, especially with the surface at the OLP” Aston said. “In his last game he was involved in 58 tackles - he puts it all out there. Matty will put his body where it needs to be; he will lead. He needs support around him. We need more of the older more experienced guys.”

During what has been a tough start to the Championship, James has often come in for praise from coach Aston.

He isn’t the only player who has been missing, the casualties include Cory Aston, Garry Lo, Shaun Pick, Oliver Davies, Jake Spedding and Josh Toole.

Perhaps the biggest miss for the Eagles chief though has been James, who Aston believes sets the perfect example for his young side to follow.

“He has been our man of the match several times this season already, and justifiably so,” Aston continued.

“His attitude and his work ethic is second to none. When he came back for pre-season he was fitter than he has been for a long time.

“His mind is clear, he has enjoyed his rugby league this season, he has enjoyed leading and the challenge it brings. It is time for others to stand up and be counted.”