NEWCASTLE Falcons boss Gary Gold has revealed he expects none of his injured players to return in time for the Aviva Premiership run-in.
The Falcons travel to Gloucester on Saturday desperate to reduce the eight-point gap between themselves and London Wasps with three games to go, but will once again do so with a depleted squad.
Out wide is where the strain is especially showing, with wingers Luke Fielden, Suka Hufanga and Alex Tait all missing.
Jeremy Manning’s absence with a thumb injury at least means that fellow Kiwi Ryan Shortland can come back into the side after being kept out by the ‘two-foreigner’ rule, while centre Corne Uys could be forced to continue in the unaccustomed role on the other flank.
Uys may yet have to be switched into midfield duty as centres Jamie Helleur and James Fitzpatrick strive to overcome a hernia and cracked rib respectively, although director of rugby Gold is confident the pair can be patched up in time for the Kingsholm kick-off.
Prop-forward Jonny Golding has been unable to train all week after having a routine injection on a knee injury last week, one which prevented him from joining his club-mates in Portugal for their 31-31 draw against the British Army. Gold said: “Hopefully all three are going to be OK to play this weekend, but it is getting pretty tough with the injury situation right now.
“It doesn’t look like any of our other injured guys are going to make it back before the end of the season, although obviously James Hudson is fit now and ready to play. He came through our friendly with the Army.
“Mark Wilson got some good game-time in Portugal and looked impressive, as did Richard Mayhew and a few others. Portugal was a useful exercise in terms of reassessing and deciding where our focus is for the remaining three games.
“So much of our destiny is out of our own hands, but it is vital that we control the things we can have an influence on. We cannot be caught up with the sideshows.”