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Super League: St Helens v Wakefield Wildcats preview
Wakefield Wildcats travel to Langtree Park to face Super League leaders St Helens on Friday knowing victory is essential to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Prior to the Tetley’s Challenge Cup break James Webster’s Wildcats had their knockout ambitions dented by defeat against Huddersfield Giants at the Rapid Solicitors Stadium.
Wakefield now stand four points adrift of Widnes in the fight for the final playoff place with only four rounds of regular season action remaining, and a trip to face the league leaders could make or break their push for a top-eight finish.
Both Saints and the Wildcats enter Round 24 fresh from a week off with neither featuring in the Challenge Cup semi-finals, although both endured defeats in their most recent Super League outings.
St Helens slumped to a 19-12 reverse at the hands of 11th-placed Hull FC last time out, while Wakefield’s loss to Huddersfield saw their remarkable late-season charge stutter after victories against reigning champions Wigan Warriors, rivals Leeds Rhinos and 2013 Grand Finalists Warrington Wolves.
"The break has been beneficial for us as we've had some good training days," Saints coach Nathan Brown told the club’s official website.
"We have lost a number of players in key positions so we've had to look at the way we play.
“To be honest, having a weekend off has meant we can look at our structures and move people from some different positions to give us a better opportunity of doing well.”
Despite losing to the Airlie Birds before the break, Saints retain a two-point at the Super League summit, but will be keen to return to winning ways with Wigan, Leeds and Castleford Tigers all tied on points below them.
Brown has winger Adam Swift back at his disposal for the Wildcats clash, meaning there is no place for Luke Thompson in the 19-man squad.
Meanwhile, Australian coach Webster has made four changes to his Wildcats squad ahead of the trip to Langtree Park.
Wakefield are once again able to call upon the services of Dean Collis, Daniel Smith and Scott Anderson following their respective injuries, while Jon Molloy also returns to the travelling party.
After missing the defeat to Huddersfield Giants through injury, Richard Mathers is not named in the squad, while the injured Nick Scruton, Jimmy Keinhorst and the departed Richard Moore are the other players to make way.
St Helens: Makinson, Turner, Jones, Swift, Masoe, Roby, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Soliola, Manu, Laffranchi, Flanagan, Amor, Wellens, Walmsley, Percival, Wheeler, Dawson, Richards, McDonnell
Wakefield Wildcats: D. Smith, Riley, Kirmond, Collis, Sykes, Lauitiiti, Raleigh, McShane, Gilmour, Sammut, Washbrook, Jowitt, Owen, Anderson, T. Smith, Tautai, Lyne, Molloy, Wildie
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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