Hull FC v Catalans Dragons: Radford thankful as Kelly back from injury

Albert Kelly.
Albert Kelly.
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GIVEN their recent record it is perhaps understandable but Hull FC coach Lee Radford admits he “cannot wait” to see Albert Kelly back on the field tonight.

The inspirational playmaker, shortlisted for Man of Steel last season, has missed the last three games due to a concussion but returns for the visit of Catalans Dragons.

Struggling Hull needed him back; they lost two of those games in which he was missing, being particularly blunt when falling 24-8 at Salford Red Devils a week ago, and have won just once in their last five league outings.

Radford said: “It’s a big boost having Alby back and last Friday highlighted that.

“There are games when you need something out of nothing and he has that capability.

“It will be great to have him on the field and have more of our spine on the field. It’s something I can’t wait to see. Any club in the competition would miss a player of Kelly’s quality and now we will be only missing Danny (Houghton) from that spine.

“When you have practiced all pre-season with those blokes in the key positions a little bit of adjusting and adapting is needed.

“To get them back and playing consistently well with each other is important moving forward.”

Full-back Jamie Shaul came off with a head knock at Salford but Radford confirmed yesterday he has passed all the return-to-play protocols.

Bottom-placed Catalans are in dire straits with former Hull captain and England coach Steve McNamara claiming just one win from six matches so far.

They were embarrassed 26-0 in Perpignan by Warrington Wolves on Saturday and Radford conceded: “This an opportunity for us to take a step in the right direction if we want to.

“If you want to play one team this week you want to play Catalans Dragons at home. But they do have a canny knack of playing the game at their tempo and their standard.

“We have to make sure we dictate the speed of play, make sure we are really clinical and not fall into that error after error scenario.

“It’s obviously a transitional period for them. They are trying to put a little bit more faith in the French players coming through.

“Long-term that can only be good for the game at international level. Short-term it’s hurting them a little bit at this moment.

“For whatever reason we played within ourselves last week but I want to see us play a bit more footy and bring the smiles back now.”