Knights old boy Matt Garside on centre stage for Sheffield Eagles

York Press: Sheffield’s Matt Garside Sheffield’s Matt Garside

FORMER York City Knights ace Matt Garside could be favourite to start at centre for Sheffield when they visit Huntington Stadium for Sunday’s pre-season friendly.

Eagles boss Mark Aston is poised to field his best available 17 on the day, plus a few fringe players, and, with USA star Lelauloto Tagaloa still awaiting his visa, it means Garside should get action in the outside backs.

Papua New Guinea international Menzie Yere is to line up in the other centre position, while there is a chance winger Misi Taulapapa will also be back in the UK and ready to don the shirt.

Another ex-Knight, Duane Straugheir, could get a run as he is recovering well after a groin operation, while, another, prop Ben Jones, is in line for a debut along with fellow new recruits Jack Blagbrough and on-loan forward Matty Hadden.

Garside played 27 games for Sheffield last year as they retained the Championship title but only eight as a starter. He will face competition from Corey Hanson, who played 18 times as a teenager in 2011 but then dropped out of the first-team picture due to injuries and loss of form, but Aston said: “Matt needs to play more games.”

The match – a testimonial for Sheffield stalwart Andrew Henderson – has taken on new importance for the Eagles after strikes by air traffic controllers forced the cancellation of their trip to France last week.

Aston will give priority to the players he expects will make his first-choice 17 for the season opener against Rochdale on the club’s return to Owlerton Stadium later this month.

“It’s a different game now,” he said. “We need to get some of the rust out of the players who will start the season. The emphasis will be on getting them ready and looking where they are. Not as many of the youngsters will play but I still want to give a chance to a few I need to have a look at.”

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