JY HITCHCOX’S long-term absence for the Bulls offers the chance for other wingers to come to the fore.

Coach John Kear believes his squad still have the resources to cope without the free-scoring Australian, who could potentially miss most of the Championship campaign.

Hitchcox has gone under the knife to sort out his serious shoulder injury and is facing anything from four to six months out of action.

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But David Foggin-Johnston made an eye-catching debut for the club at Batley last week. And with Dalton Grant also due to make his comeback for the reserves, Kear is confident there is still plenty of strike-power out wide to play opposite Ethan Ryan.

Kear set Foggin-Johnston a target of breaking 100 metres with his carries in the energy-sapping conditions of Mount Pleasant – a task that the former Hunslet flier comfortably pulled off.

The Halton Stadium’s newly-laid 3G surface at Widnes should be much more to his liking tomorrow as he aims to build on a promising start.

“I was delighted with David’s contribution last week,” said Kear. “I thought it was a pretty good debut for the club.

“I love his enthusiasm. You can tell that he just loves playing rugby league.

“I think that generates with others in the team and he made a very good first impression.

“We’ve got Dalton Grant now fully fit so, although we’ve lost Jy, we’ve still got three outstanding wingers with young Josh Ricketts on the sideline.”

Grant will feature for the reserves against Featherstone on Wednesday – his first game since playing in the autumn internationals for Kear’s Wales.

A groin injury ruled him out of any pre-season action and he was further frustrated by last week’s postponement of the reserve game at Wakefield.

Kear is looking forward to getting him back out on the pitch next week – with an eye to a first-team return in the Challenge Cup at Keighley.

He said: “Should Dalton play well, he can put his hand up for possibly the weekend but more likely the Challenge Cup the week after against Keighley.

“We can’t throw him into a Championship game without him getting some minutes under his belt at a lesser level, which in our case is the reserves.

“It’s like anything else. You can do all the pre-planning, which we have done, with minutes etc but once you start getting injuries that goes all out the window.”

Grant scored 18 tries in 25 appearances last season in League One and signed a contract extension in September to keep him at Odsal until the end of the current campaign.