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Francis Cummins: Bradford Bulls new boys set to face Hull FC
Bradford Bulls coach Francis Cummins will hand debuts to a number of new signings in Sunday’s pre-season friendly at home to Hull FC.
Garreth Carvell, Luke George, Lee Gaskell and Adam Henry have all been named in a 24-man squad to face the Black and Whites.
James Saltonstall and Joe Philbin have also been included but fellow Warrington loanee Tom Walker is nursing a knock and misses out.
Diskin is recovering from an off-season operation to have nerves removed from both feet, Ferguson is nursing a hamstring/back problem, Blythe has a cut thumb and Kearney is recovering from a shoulder-related injury.
But Chev Walker could feature after knee surgery, and rookie half-back Adam Brook, who impressed for the under-19s last term, is also in the squad.
Cummins said: “There are a few players missing with bumps and bruises, including a few big-hitters, but it gives opportunities to other people, and nearly all the new signings will play.
“We’ll have quite large squad on duty and everyone who is ready to play will get a go this weekend.
“Blythey has a cut thumb and will probably miss all the friendlies but BK could be back in full training next week.
“He could play some part in the other friendlies with a bit of luck but we won’t rush him.”
Cummins said Saltonstall, Philbin and Walker had settled in well since joining the Bulls squad at the beginning of last week.
The head coach also spoke positively yesterday about the off-field developments at the club during the past few days.
The Bulls have announced extensions to their deals with sponsors Holinbay and Coral Windows & Conservatories – with further deals imminent.
The news has encouraged hopes that the club’s ownership saga will finally be resolved shortly, and Cummins said: “The business is able to grow again and we’re able to confirm sponsorship deals, which is good to see.
“It’s not nice being in the middle of it because you don’t want to be worrying about the club and the circumstances surrounding it.
“But it’s great to hear some good news, and I think there are a few more things to come too.”
With the new season exactly a month away, Cummins is hopeful he will not be forced to offload any of his players.
He added: “You get more confident about not having to lose anyone when you see these positive things happening off the field.
“The club have basically told the players that if there are any options out there then they can speak to other clubs.
“But the players have said they want to stay and, as a coach, I don’t want to lose anybody.
“I’ve told the players that, and you would like to think that, the longer it goes on, hopefully we can keep everyone intact.”
Bulls’ 24-man squad to face Hull FC: Gaskell, Kear, Henry, Purtell, Foster, Sammut, Gale, Carvell, O'Brien, Scruton, Olbison, Addy, Donaldson, Manuokafoa, Sidlow, Conroy, Mellor, Roberts, Chev Walker, Wood, George, Brook, Saltonstall, Philbin.
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