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Page last updated at 09:30 GMT, Tuesday, 12 April 2011 10:30 UK

Salford having to handle Malcolm Alker's absence

Malcolm Alker
Alker made over 350 appearances for Salford before retiring last September

Suspended Salford assistant coach Malcolm Alker is still to outline his future at The Willows after being sent home from training last week.

Alker, 32, remained absent on Sunday when the Reds lost 52-20 at Castleford.

"We are thin on the ground, but these things happen sometimes," Salford director of football Steve Simms told BBC Radio Manchester.

Reds are already without head coach Shaun McRae, who has been absent on sick leave since early March.

And former club captain Alker, who retired at the end of last season to take up his role on McRae's coaching staff at The Willows, had been taking charge of training, alongside fellow assistant coach Phil Veivers.

But it was left to Simms and Veivers to take charge of team affairs for Sunday's 52-20 defeat at Castleford.

Alker, who is thought to have sought advice from the players' trade union, a wing of the GMB, was expected at the club on Monday.

But Simms said: "He's not back and I've not heard from him."

And Salford chief executive David Tarry still hopes that the matter can be resolved quickly.

"We are waiting for Malcolm's people to contact us about a meeting," he said. "We need to get to the bottom of what's going on and we need to end the speculation."

"Every club has their hiccups," added Simms. "Every club has these things. It's just that sometimes some clubs seem to have more people trying to get it out there than others.

"It's not healthy for the club but you've got to progress.

"Nobody's bigger than the club and we're all in this together.

"Everybody's trying hard at Salford City Reds. We're trying to progress forward and I'm sure we will."

It has so far been a relatively unhappy start for the Reds, who had high hopes of improving on last season's 12th-placed finish after a big winter recruitment drive.

After starting with a Magic Weekend hammering by Crusaders at the Millennium Stadium on the opening Sunday of the season, Salford then lost former Hull and St Helens coach McRae.

Added to that, Phil Bailey, the Reds' close season signing from Wigan, was forced to announce his retirement from the game despite not having set foot on the pitch for his new club.

And they have now won just three of their nine games to still be sat 12th in Super League, ahead of only Wakefield and Crusaders, the two sides who start the season on minus points after going into administration.

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