Whitehaven expect a tough final pre-season work-out as they prepare to host Newcastle Thunder on Sunday, ko 3pm.

Second favourites to win the League One title the north-east club boast their strongest squad since switching names from Gateshead to Newcastle.

Thunder should have played a warm-up game at Oldham last week but the friendly was frozen off. It means they have only played one pre-season game against a young Wakefield Trinity side which they won 16-6.

For last week’s postponed game they had named a squad of 21 which suggests they might want no limit on the number of substitutions at the Recreation Ground.

They start their League One season the following Saturday (February 16) at home to Doncaster.

Whitehaven’s assistant coach Jonty Gorley said: “That’s something I’m sure Charlo (Gary Charlton) will discuss with their coach Jason Payne when Newcastle get here on Sunday.

“As far as we are concerned we would really like to have as near to the 13 who will start against Keighley the following week, on the pitch for a decent spell.

“The only injury problem we’ve got is with Dion (Aiye). He took a knock on the lower shin against Barrow, the same spot he had been struck against Workington the previous week.

“It is a soft tissue injury and he is getting about now without the need for crutches but he might not be quite ready for the Keighley game.

“Chris Taylor got 20 minutes at Barrow and has suffered no adverse reaction with the knee he damaged at the end of last season. He’s been training well since then.”

There is still no confirmation of whether Jessie Joe Parker will be cleared to play as the club has been waiting for his visa to be approved since before the Ike Southward Memorial Trophy game. Haven lost that opening contest 24-6 and then went down 24-10 at Barrow.

Gateshead Thunder were taken over by the owners of rugby union side Newcastle Falcons in 2015 and the club was rebranded as Newcastle Thunder. They play at the Falcons’ Kingston Park.