WIDNES Vikings are just 80 minutes away from their first summer era Wembley appearance.

They have been paired with Castleford in the Challenge Cup semi final to be played on the weekend of 9/10 August, with Leigh the likely venue.

Although it a far from easy draw, against the side currently in third spot and buoyant after knocking out holders Wigan, it is nevertheless the one they will have wanted.

However, the carrot of a route through to Wembley for the first time since 1993 is being used as a motivation, rather than a distraction for the next nine weeks.

Coach Denis Betts said: “It is good to get to this part of the season where we are starting to get some bodies back.

“We are nine weeks away from the semi so we can put that to one side.

“We had a chat yesterday and spoke about using that as a tool to get better, not something that will be our only focus. We need to build our performances leading into that game.

“It is exciting for the supporters and for the club. It is a nice feeling that some of the work has been rewarded.

“I was pleased with the draw and I don’t Daryl Powell feels the same way.”

Immediate attention, however, will switch to Friday’s home game against Hull FC which is the start of a gruelling three matches in ten days.

Next Wednesday they play their game in hand at Wigan followed by home clash with Leeds.

The team came out of Thursday’s game healthy and have a number of absent players fit and available for selection.

“Next week is as tough a task we’ve had in a long, long time. We have a challenging week but the lads are up for it,” Betts said.

Hep Cahill and Phil Joseph are fit and available for selection, with skipper Jon Clarke returning and Paddy Flynn back from suspension.

Friday’s game at Select Security Stadium kicks off at 8pm.