Aston ponders changes as Eagles bid to leapfrog Dons

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Sheffield Eagles coach Mark Aston must make major changes for the crucial game against Doncaster.

A win in Sunday’s derby at Owlerton (2pm) would take the Eagles above the Dons in the Championship.

Knee injuries have ruled out the club’s record try scorer Menzie Yere and back row forward Michael Knowles. Aston is likely to turn to his loan players to fill the gaps. Huddersfield’s Peter Aspinall is a back row forward, Jon Ford (Salford) can play wing or centre with Jordan Burke (Warrington) offering cover in both areas.

Prop Jack Blagbrough, who scored a hat-trick of tries in the Challenge Cup win over London Skolars, could be recalled with Will Hope sidelined with a shoulder injury.

“You are trying to get a settled team and get continuity but with the injuries we’ve picked up that isn’t possible,” said Aston.

“I’m not so worried about loose-forward, we have people who can fill in. I have options in the centres - Misi Taulapapa, Jon Ford, Scott Turner and Jordan Burke – but I have to make changes.”

Paul Cooke, in his first season as player-coach, has taken the Dons to third in the Championship but they are only two points ahead of Eagles.

“It’ll be a big test for us, we need to keep the momentum going, win and we can overtake them,” said Aston.

“It’s the bragging rights for South Yorkshire, it’s an important game for both sets of fans and hopefully we’ll get a big crowd.”

Eagles chairman Ian Swire insists progress is being made towards a new multi-sports community stadium on the former Don Valley site which could provide a long-term home. The club has a two-year deal to play at Owlerton and Swire says fans have responded well with income from season ticket sales up 62 per cent.

He admits Owlerton “will never be a rugby stadium” and sees a new ground as key to the Eagles ambitions to return to the Super League. Supporters can give their views via a questionnaire on the club website.