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Bradford Bulls: Ready, steady, go for John Bateman
John Bateman will hit the comeback trail tomorrow night when he lines up for the Bulls’ Academy side at Huddersfield.
The homegrown back-rower has made steady progress in his rehabilitation from a shoulder reconstruction during the off-season.
He will not play any part in Sunday’s first-team trip to Huddersfield but is closing in on his first Super League appearance of the season.
Bateman, 19, is expected to play at least 20 minutes tomorrow night as he builds up his match fitness.
Bulls coach Francis Cummins said: “John won’t be involved on Sunday but is well on with his rehab and will have a little stint for the Under-19s on Thursday.
“It might just be one game he plays for the 19s or we might have to look at him playing elsewhere.
“Alternatively he may come into contention to play for the first team the week after (at Widnes).
“But I want John to build his game-time up and I don’t want to be bringing him back early.
“It is really important that John has a good pre-season because you will see how trim he looks and how fit he is.
“That is the most important thing for John and the club; that, what is effectively a pre-season for him, goes well so that it will benefit him for the next ten years.”
Joint-captain Matt Diskin is hopeful of being passed fit to face Huddersfield on Sunday after a dead leg forced him out of last weekend’s home defeat to St Helens.
Adrian Purtell, Luke Gale and Ben Evans are all making steady progress as they edge closer towards being ready for first-team action.
“It will only be a matter of three or four weeks until Adrian Purtell is available again,” added Cummins.
“Luke Gale is seeing a specialist today to see if he can kick on with the next bit of his rehab.
“We can definitely see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
Cummins admitted that his men will need a vast improvement from last weekend if they are to topple the Giants on Sunday.
The Bulls coach added: “We weren’t good enough against St Helens, so we’ve got to make sure we are good enough this week.
“That’s the way we’ve got to be. We have to perform at the best of our ability and if we do that then we can beat any team.”