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St Helens captain Paul Wellens says Monday's derby with Warrington is a must-win game if Saints are to keep alive hopes of a top two finish.
The Saints were out of the top eight when coach Royce Simmons was sacked in March, but have since lost just twice under caretaker coaches Mike Rush and Kieron Cunningham, climbing to third in the standings.
A win would close the gap to second placed Wolves to a single point as St Helens go in search of a seventh consecutive Grand Final appearance.
Wellens said: "If you go back a few months you wouldn't have given us any chance of getting near the top two but clubs have lost some games and results have gone our way to give us a chance.
"But no doubt we have to win on Monday if we want to finish top two because Warrington won't drop that many points between now and the end of the season. This is a game we need to win.
"From where we were it would be a huge achievement. Slowly and surely we've gone about our business, taken each game at a time and picked up wins.
"It's up there with one of the big games with the recent history we've had. They're always close affairs, quite often going down to the wire, pardon the pun.
"We're probably very similar in the way we play the game and I think that's why they are exciting games and I think this will be no different."
Double-chasing Warrington face leaders Wigan on Saturday and Leeds at Wembley later in the month but coach Tony Smith is not yet looking past Monday's fixture.
"We're looking forward to Saints," Smith said. "It's at their ground and we haven't been there before.
"They've had a hoodoo on us for a number of years in their home town. We're keen to create a new history for ourselves over there.
"But we know we'll have to be good to do that because they're in very good form.
"They've found the formula of how to play without James Graham in their team. It took them some time to do that.
"He was that influential for that many years with the workload that he had. It took them some time to perform to their best and I think they've been able to do that in recent times.
"It probably cost a bloke his job but they've certainly found that confidence and got a roll on."
St Helens have forward Tony Puletua returning from suspension in the only change to the team that beat Huddersfield in their last match. Winger Ade Gardner is their only injury absentee.
Warrington recall Ryan Atkins, Trent Waterhouse, Micky Higham and Brett Hodgson after they were rested for last week's win over Bradford, but loose forward Ben Harrison is out with bruised ribs and centre Chris Bridge remains sidelines with a knee injury.
St Helens squad: Wellens, Shenton, Soliola, Meli, Hohaia, Lomax, Perry, Roby, McCarthy-carsbrook, Puletua, Wilkin, Flannery, Laffranchi, Flanagan, Clough, Magennis, Dixon, Makinson, J Jones.
Warrington squad: Atkins, Briers, Carvell, Cooper, Grix, Higham, Hill, Hodgson, McCarthy, J Monaghan, M Monaghan, Morley, Myler, Ratchford, Riley, Solomona, Waterhouse, Westwood, Wood.
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First Utility Super League Table
|5||Hull K R||0||0|
|7||Salford Red Devils||0||0|
|First Utility Super League|
|Thursday 5th February|
|20:00||Widnes vs Wigan|
|Friday 6th February|
|20:00||St Helens vs Catalans Dragons|
|Saturday 7th February|
|15:00||Warrington vs Salford|
|Sunday 8th February|
|15:00||Huddersfield vs Hull|
|15:00||Hull K R vs Leeds|
|15:30||Castleford vs Wakefield|
|Thursday 12th February|
|20:00||Salford vs St Helens|
|Friday 13th February|
|20:00||Hull vs Warrington|
|20:00||Leeds vs Widnes|
|20:00||Wigan vs Huddersfield|
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