Double blow for Red Devils
Salford Red Devils coach Iestyn Harris will be forced to try a fourth different half-back pairing in Saturday's Magic Weekend clash with Widnes Vikings after revealing that French youngster Theo Fages could be sidelined for up to five weeks with a shoulder injury and that Australian Tim Smith could be unavailable for up to two months.
The 29-year-old Smith began the Red Devils' first 10 matches of the season at scrum-half following his arrival from Wakefield Trinity Wildcats in the winter but he has appeared in just two of their last four, with the club declining to offer an explanation.
"We've just got a couple of issues at the moment," Harris said at the Launch of First Utility Super League's Magic Weekend in Manchester. "I'm not going to go into too much detail but he's unavailable at this moment in time.
"We're not sure how long it will be. It could be a couple of weeks, it could be a couple of months. We've just got to wait and see how things develop over the next few weeks."
Smith, who admitted to suffering from bipolar disorder earlier in his life, had his spell at Wigan Warriors cut short in 2009 due to a shoulder injury but he got his career back on track in a successful two-year stint with the Wildcats which caught the attention of Salford owner Marwan Koukash.
Smith recently lost his place to Fages but the 19-year-old was injured in last Saturday's 16-16 draw with Hull KR.
"Theo got hit late with a bit of a shoulder charge," Harris said. "We'll get more of an assessment tomorrow but we're looking optimistically at three weeks but pessimistically at five so it will be somewhere in between."
For Saturday's game at the Etihad Stadium, Harris is likely to pair Rangi Chase with Tommy Lee, who was signed from London Broncos as a hooker but has played for his previous clubs Hull FC, Wakefield and Crusaders RL at scrum-half.
"Tommy will come back into the reckoning," Harris said. "He obviously started his career in the halves so he'll probably look to control the game from the half-back position."
The Red Devils will be aiming for their first win in five matches, having lost twice to the Vikings already this season.