Whitehaven are looking to make a positive start to their Championship return today.

The West Cumbrians host Swinton Lions in what is likely to be one of several key games throughout the season.

It’s widely predicted that a mini-league of Haven, Oldham, Swinton, Dewsbury, Batley and Sheffield will be battling to avoid the bottom two and the drop.

Leigh, Toulouse, Featherstone and London Broncos are expected to be the ones contesting top spot. In behind will be York, Bradford, Halifax and Widnes.

Haven head coach Gary Charlton said: “It’s what happens every year it seems.

“There’s a few at the top, a few more in behind and then the rest battle to stay in the competition.

“We know what we have to do and that’s why we are prioritising our home matches.

“I expect us to be hard to beat and by the end of the season other teams are saying that the Recreation Ground was the hardest place they had visited.”

Haven will start their return to the Championship without four members of their squad.

Glenn Riley (knee cap) and Brett Carter (hamstring) were injured in the Ike Southward Memorial game against Workington Town.

Connor Holliday also suffered a hamstring injury in the opening warm-up game at Newcastle Thunder.

Karl Olstrom is the fourth player out of the reckoning as he re-signed for the club late into pre-season and is considered a fortnight away from action.

“I think we have the players just about how we want them and I don’t think there’s a lot between them,” Charlton added.

“I am confident that whatever 13 we start with they will go out there and give their best for the club.

“It hasn’t been easy selecting a starting line-up and the 17 for the first game, but that’s not a problem we mind.

“Throughout the course of the season I am sure all the squad will get to play a part.”

Karl Dixon, Jamie Thackray and Tom Walker could make their competitive debuts.

Swinton Lions are the first to test Haven’s home resolve (3pm kick-off).

Before then Haven will hold their launch night in the JJ McKeown Bar at the Recreation Ground tonight. Entry is £5 with special guest Vince Gribbin.

The squad to face Swinton will be chosen from: Aiye, Bradley, Bulman, Coward, Dixon, Dowsett, Forrester, Gillam, Kelly, Moore, Mossop, Newton, Parker, B. Phillips, C. Phillips, Shackley, Taylor, Thackray, Thompson, Walker, Wilkinson.

In the other Championship games, Dewsbury were due to host Leigh last night, York go to Toulouse tonight and tomorrow will see Batley host Featherstone, Bradford entertain London, Halifax welcome Sheffield and Oldham play Widnes.