Manchester Giants coach Danny Byrne says the loss of Callum Jones to the Commonwealth Games gives the opportunity to other members of his squad to step up.

Jones has played an average of 37 minutes and 15 points per game this season but will be missing for six games representing England Down Under.

Byrne said: “It’s a big blow to lose Callum. He’s the one running the plays and leading on court.

“But it’s a big opportunity for Sam Lane and Austin Rettig to really step up and show that they belong in the BBL.

“Sam was unfortunate to have the injury that sidelined him for the first three or four months of the season, but he’s slowly getting back to where he needs to be.

“There’s no better opportunity for either of them to prove their worth.”

With the Giants out of the play-off race, the target is to better last season’s win record and finish as high in the table as possible.

Like other clubs, Byrne did look at the player market for a short-term solution to replace Jones and while a direct replacement may not be possible, another body may be added to the roster for the run-in.

He added: “I suppose it would have been harder to swallow had we been in that play-off hunt.

“There was a player we had talked to at the start of the season that we maybe could have brought in, but they wouldn’t be a starting player and they haven’t had the prior months to get up to speed with the BBL and learn off Callum.

“If there was an experienced BBL point guard available, then it may have been different.

“But ultimately we have 11 players, 10 without Cal and we’ve got to keep going.

“Teams can be beaten and my players have to step up, and I think they will.”

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