COACH Mark Aston has to balance a desire to give Sheffield Eagles supporters a glimpse of the club’s future with damage limitation this weekend.
Eagles face amateurs Leigh East in the third round of the Challenge Cup offering an opportunity to give young developing players a chance.
Aston’s teenage son Cory will make his senior debut and one or more Academy players could be in the 17.
But the changes will be tempered with caution after a strong Eagles squad went down to their first defeat in eight games at Whitehaven on Easter Monday.
“What happened at Whitehaven was a disappointment – we weren’t in the game, made mistakes and certain individuals have to look closely at their performance,” said Aston.
“The Cup will give a chance to have a look at one or two of the younger players but we won’t go over the top.
“We’ll put out a strong team to make sure that we don’t slip up. Some Academy players deserve their chance.”
Cory Aston, who was 18 last month, is slightly younger than his father was when he made his senior debut for the Eagles as a trialist in 1986.
Aston senior says he’ll be “proud but nervous, like any dad” but Cory is ready.
A half-back like his father, Cory has come through the Eagles Academy and has been training with the first team squad for much of this season.
“Cory will be on the bench and we’ll put him on when it’s right – as we do with any young player,” said Aston.
“He probably has a bit more than I had at his age. He’s certainly a little bit sharper, not much, but a little bit quicker than me.”
Sunday’s game at Don Valley (kick-off 3pm) will be the second time the Eagles have faced Leigh East in the Challenge Cup. In 2002 the amateurs lost 34-12.
Aston wants a strong positive performance from his team after an unconvincing win over Doncaster on Good Friday followed by defeat at Whitehaven on Monday pushing them down to fifth in the Championship.
Three early tries put Whitehaven on their way to a 30-16 win.
Scores from Mitch Stringer and Menzie Yere gave some hope just before half-time but Haven extended their lead and a second try for Yere wasn’t enough to earn a losing bonus point.