Whitehaven will welcome back some key players for Sunday’s crucial League One clash against Hunslet.

Callum Phillips, Connor Holliday and James Tilley are all available again after missing last weekend’s trip to Hemel Stags.

Unfortunately, one major absentee will be tough-tackling centre Chris Taylor who suffered a knee injury in the last home game with Doncaster which will keep him out for the rest of the season.

Coach Carl Forster said: “It’s a real blow because Chris is such a key member of the group.

"Fortunately, the knee isn’t as badly injured as was first thought but it will still keep him out of the last three games in the regular season.

“However, the other three lads come back into the squad and they all know how important this game is for the club. Nobody has given up on finishing in a play-off place.”

Forster also explained how Carl Sice, named in the squad for the trip south, hadn’t actually figured on the day.

The former Kells, Workington Town and Whitehaven hooker had re-signed for the Recreation Ground club at the same time as Craig Calvert to help out the club in any emergency.

“When they signed, it was for cover and if they weren’t used, they weren’t used. They were happy with that," said the coach.

“Now Sicey has been training and got a few sessions under his belt he will be better equipped to deal with it if we need him and we could see him before the end of the season.

“It’s nice for us to have them both there."

Meanwhile, Sunday’s opponents Hunslet have confirmed that back-row forward Josh Tonks has penned a new two-year contract with the club.

The former Keighley captain will remain at the South Leeds Stadium until the end of the 2020 season.

Tonks, 26, only joined the Parksiders from cash-strapped Keighley back in July and has gone on to make a big impact at the club.

He has put in some solid performances, most notably against his former club in an impressive away win and away to West Wales where he helped himself to four tries.

Tonka has an impressive record so far, making a total of seven appearances and scoring five tries.

Head coach Gary Thornton said: “He is one of the top back-rowers in the division and, yet again, we have had to beat off opposition from other clubs to keep him, and I am delighted he has decided to commit to us.

“I think it’s a measure of how far we have come this year that other clubs are trying to tempt our players away, but it also shows we are developing well ourselves, and they are happy to stay and progress us further.”

England captain Sean O’Loughlin has urged the game’s authorities to find a replacement match for next year’s cancelled mid-season international against New Zealand in Denver.

England beat the Kiwis in the American city in June and it was hoped the venture, which attracted a crowd of 19,320, could be repeated next year. That will now not happen following confirmation New Zealand will instead host Tonga.

O’Loughlin said: “I liked the concept, there was a decent crowd there and, game-wise, it was intense.

"They’re the sort of games we want to play in. Hopefully, they come up with something else. I think England need to have a mid-season game.”