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Next few weeks crucial - Brown

8th of June 2013
Next few weeks crucial - Brown

St Helens coach Nathan Brown is hoping a run of fixtures against lowly opposition can help them climb the Super League ladder.

St Helens coach Nathan Brown is hoping a run of fixtures against lowly opposition can help them climb the Super League ladder.

Saints have never finished below fifth in 17 seasons of Super League but they are currently out of the top eight having won just one of their last seven matches.

However, Saints' next four fixtures are all against teams also outside of the top six, with the visit of Bradford Bulls to Langtree Park tomorrow followed by games against Salford City Reds, Hull KR and Castleford Tigers before they meet Wigan Warriors towards the end of July.

"We face the teams that are around the same points as us," Brown said.

"They have gone through similar situations as us with form - or lack of it - and bad luck.

"These games are important for numbers of reasons. If you are within a point of a team, they become big contests when you play them for where your eventual position can be.

"We need to play well in them and we can take out of the Huddersfield game the things that were good and improve on the things that were not so good."

Bradford are just a point ahead of Saints after winning only one of their last six league matches and coach Francis Cummins is wary of a side that hammered the Bulls 36-10 at Odsal in February.

"They are still a very good side who have shown just what they can accomplish even in adversity," he said. "It's another tough challenge for us."

Bradford's preparations have not been helped by the shock transfer request of second rower Elliott Whitehead, who has been put on indefinite leave despite being an ever-present in the side up to now.

The Bulls are also without half-back Jarrod Sammut, who has enjoyed a sparkling season so far but loses his ever-present record through injury.

Saints' injury crisis is easing and Brown has included half-back or full-back Jonny Lomax in his initial 19-man squad after the fringe England player recovered from a three-month injury lay-off, although there is no guarantee he will play.

Brown was determined not to rush hooker James Roby back from a similar length of time on the sidelines and he will adopt a safety-first policy with Lomax.

"He contributed in two team sessions last week and we'll have a better idea after another field session," Brown said.

"He's in a similar position to James Roby though. After all this pain, you want to make sure when he comes back he stays back."

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