Arnold warns Hoppers over complacency risk
Preston Grasshoppers head coach Paul Arnold has warned his players about the dangers of complacency this weekend.
Hoppers welcome winless Birkenhead Park to Lightfoot Lane in confident mood after an unbeaten start to the campaign.
In his first three games in charge, Arnold – who arrived at the club during the summer – has guided Hoppers to joint second in the table.
By contrast Birkenhead have not enjoyed the best of starts, although they put their first points on the board last weekend when they drew 22-22 at home to Pocklington.
Ironically, last weekend, Hoppers were also held to a draw – dropping their first points of the season away at Hull.
Despite that minor setback, Arnold has been buoyed by his side’s start, but admits games like tomorrow’s are the ones which make him the most nervous as a coach.
Arnold said: “It’s a game we should be winning tomorrow.
“But these are the games I get most afraid about.
“Everybody is expecting us to win, but we can’t underestimate them because every team in this league is capable of giving you a game so we can’t be complacent.”
Arnold, who is set to be on the bench tomorrow, comes up against former England Counties team-mate Martin O’Keefe in the opposite dug-out, while Birkenhead also have the experience of player-coach Simon Mason to call upon.
“I played with Martin for many years, he’s a great bloke and Simon won the Heineken Cup with Ulster back in the day.
“They will have them well drilled and organised.”
Scott Jordan is at full-back for Hoppers for his first game since rejoining from Wharfedale.
With Alex Hurst unavailable, Niall Crosley switches to the wing.
Ally Murray switches to lock and Ollie Tripper returning to the back row.
Elsewhere, Vale of Lune, topping North One West after three straight – and very convincing – victories, travel to Carlisle, who have won one and lost two so far.
With Jordan Dorrington, Evan Stewart and Tom Cvijanovic all unavailable, Ollie Jacques comes in on the wing, Chris Ramwell switches to full-back, Adam Foxcroft is in the second row and Joe Wallbank at flanker.
Prop Ross Pillow also returns this week.
Tomorrow Fylde make the long trek to Plymouth Albion, who lie fourth after two wins out of three.
Hoppers: Jordan; Trueman, Stott, Fitzpatrick, Crosley; Hunt, Squirrel; Mabaya, Millea, Altham, Roddy, A Murray, Gale, Trippier, Lamprey. Replacements: Madden, Arnold, M Murray.
Vale: Ramwell; Hall, Higgin, Owens, Jacques; B Dorrington, Swarbrick; Cowey, D Baines, Pillow, Fellows, Foxcroft, J Wallbank, Ayrton, S Wallbank. Replacements to be announced.