BIG Storage Cheshire Jets travel to Liverpool for tonight’s derby at Everton Tigers with a depleted squad.
A major question mark hangs over James Hamilton’s participation in the match as the vastly-experienced American continues to struggle with a groin injury.
To make matters worse, Jets are definitely unable to call on player/head coach TJ Walker.
He has flown back to his native America to have surgery on a knee injury that was discovered last week to be more serious than first thought.
Walker found he would be able to have his operation within seven days in America, much sooner than in Britain, and he was scheduled to go under the knife yesterday.
If all goes well, he will return to the UK to resume coaching duties for the Jets’ trip to Plymouth Raiders in the BBL Trophy on December 29, with a view to returning as a player by the end of January.
In the meantime, former Jets chief Paul Smith will assume Walker’s coaching duties – and he is looking forward to tonight’s visit to Liverpool.
Smith said: “We had a great game against Everton last time. “We won by 13 points, but the score flattered us. It’s almost like a Jets reunion when we play them. We know all about what someone like Calvin Davis can do, but stopping him is another matter. Chris Haslam is a great centre, and Tony Robertson is an excellent player, so it will be tough.”
As for Hamilton’s injury worry, Smith added: “We’re hoping that James will be back for the game, but he’s only 50-50 at the moment.
“You can’t rush a groin injury. If you try, it’ll just set him back for longer. I’m just nursing the team through at the moment, but Alan Duppa played some good minutes for us at the weekend, and we’ve got Richard Murphy and Phil Brandreth. We need all the players we can get at the moment, so they are key for us.”
Everton coach Henry Mooney is looking for a victory to continue his side’s climb up the table,
He said: “I saw Jets against London last week, and they looked out of sorts. With TJ missing and James Hamilton struggling, we’re obviously looking to beat them.”
Jets won their first ever meeting with the Tigers back in October, triumphing 93-80 in a BBL Cup tie at the Northgate Arena.
Jets visit Milton Keynes Lions in the BBL Trophy next Wednesday (7.30pm).