sport

Salford takeover moves closer

Racing magnate Dr Marwan Koukash will get his first sight of Salford City Reds on Thursday as he seeks to complete a takeover.

The 56-year-old Kuwait-born businessman and racehorse owner is still in negotiations with Salford City Stadium owners Peel Holdings and Salford Council to buy both the cash-strapped Super League club and the ground.

It is thought a deal for the City Reds is close to completion and Dr Koukash has flown in Andrew Chalmers, Ed Farish and former Wigan coach Graham Lowe from Australia and New Zealand to help him transform their fortunes.

Koukash, who lives in St Helens and attended Super League matches at Langtree Park last season, has booked a hospitality box at the Salford City Stadium for family and friends at tomorrow's pre-season friendly against Wigan.

Salford are confident the match will go ahead, with the pitch currently protected with frost covers that can guard against temperatures of minus six.

Wigan coach Shaun Wane is set to pair his new half-backs Blake Green and Matty Smith for the first time in a near full-strength line-up.

Both players missed the Warriors' earlier friendlies against Leigh and Hull KR but will get their first run-outs of 2013, alongside regulars Josh Charnley, Darrell Goulding, Pat Richards, Lee Mossop, Mickey McIlorum, Harrison Hansen and Liam Farrell.

England duo Sam Tomkins and Gareth Hock, whose future remains the subject of much speculation as he continues his recovery from shoulder surgery, are Wigan's most notable absentees.

Salford are down to just 20 available players after injuries struck coach Phil Veivers' already-threadbare squad.

Former Wigan centre Martin Gleeson, who has verbally agreed a two-year contract and played as a trialist against Swinton earlier this month, is among those to have picked up a minor knock in training.

"They picked up knocks going from hard to soft grounds but I'm not worried about Martin Gleeson not having a run-out against Wigan," Veivers said.

"I saw enough against Swinton to know that he's still got something in the locker and I'd rather have him fit for the first game."

Veivers, who is also without Matty Ashurst, Stuart Howarth and Lee Jewitt, will take another look at young half-backs Marc Sneyd and Theo Fages as he waits for funds to be released to enable him to complete the rebuilding of his squad.

Wigan are also Salford's opponents in the opening round of Super League VXIII at Barton on February 1.