Tony Smith considering two Hull FC debuts as another hint to new signing made

Tony Smith has revealed that two Hull FC youngsters are in contention to make their first-team debuts at St Helens on Friday night. The Black and Whites head to Merseyside for their final game of the season, with Lewis Martin and Zach Jebson both within a shout of playing.

Both players have excelled in Reserve grade this year under Michael Shenton and have been named in recent 21-man squads, with Smith keen to support the club's youth development. The likes of Nick Staveley, Davy Litten, Will Gardiner, and Harvey Barron are also in the mix.

Of course, Hull are set for some changes at Saints, with Danny Houghton and Liam Sutcliffe dropping out of the 21-man squad. Smith also revealed that there are doubts about the fitness of Andre Savelio and Adam Swift, with Carlos Tuimavave coming back into the side.

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“Sutty is out for a knee cleanout today," Smith told Hull Live. "It's been an ongoing issue for him, and we couldn't put it off any longer. He'll be back and ready well before pre-season.

"Danny has a calf problem. There is some tightness there, and with the amount of work he's done this year, I don't want to risk him. It's not worth putting him through it when he's not quite right. He was prepared to soldier on, but it was more me who pulled that.

"We've also got some similar issues with Andre. He is a doubt for this game. There is some concern, and whether he makes the match or not, I'm not sure. Without finalising things just yet, Nick will likely play again, and Zach has a chance of getting his first run out as well.

"There's a little bit of doubt on Swifty as well, so we've also got a chance of Lewis Martin this week. If that happens, it'll be good for those two young guys. There's a chance, but we'll finalise that about an hour and a half before kick off tomorrow."

Smith also gave an injury update on Ligi Sao, whose season has been ended by a knee issue that required surgery earlier this month. There was some hope that the prop would return in time to play again this year, but it wasn't to be.

“Ligi hasn't joined back in yet; he's not been able to tick those boxes," Smith continued. "He's still in recovery mode. He has done some gym work, but he hasn't been able to get out on the pitch. He'll be back running and good to go for pre-season."

There was also positive news for on-trial French prop Damel Diakhate, who looks increasingly likely to stay at the club next season. Smith dropped another hint to suggest as much, with the player impressing in his Reserves stint.

“He's not quite right, but he's closer," Smith added. "He's been out on the pitch running; he's not doing everything that everybody else is doing, but he'll be fine for the off-season and pre-season."

Asked for a definitive answer on Diakhate being a Hull player in 2024, Smith joked: "He could be, if he signs a contract that gets announced. You can speculate that he may do that."