One of Widnes’ better off-season recruits, Tyler Dupree, has left the club to join Salford after making just seven appearances.

The former Leeds academy prop made no secret of his desire to play Super League, and had agreed a deal to join the Red Devils for 2023 several weeks ago.

But now Widnes have allowed him to depart early – tempering the news by announcing the signing of prop Josh Johnson.

Johnson himself is a solid addition to the Widnes front row and at the age of 27, has experience under his belt.

Though many fans would have liked him to be just that, an addition, rather than replacing someone going out the door.

As for Dupree, he played well in the first few games but has been seen sporadically since; last featuring in the defeat at York.

The worry is more about the prospects of Widnes’ squad-building.

Two-week loans have been a pattern of this season so far – Jack Wells (one appearance), Danny Addy (one), Kieron Dixon (none!), Ramon Silva (two) and Morgan Burgess (one) all signing since March on very temporary deals.

And now one of the few decent permanent signings Widnes have made in recent times has been allowed to leave.

Is this all that fans have got to look forward to now?

Short-term loans and any decent players being picked off by Super League clubs?

While fans won’t begrudge Dupree the opportunity, like Deon Cross before him, for the club to be used as a stepping stone to Salford shows just how far it has fallen.

The recruitment pattern of recent seasons suggests that beggars can’t be choosers in that regard – but perhaps the focus should be on getting solid, part-time players like Oliver Davies and Aaron Brown, and maybe avoiding those players who still have Super League aspirations until Widnes display similar aspirations of their own.

The club is going to find it very hard to keep fans onside, and more to the point paying £22 a ticket, if it’s simply going to be used as a stepping stone for players; either on their way up or on loan.

Dupree’s exit comes barely a week after an unattributed club statement bemoaned the injuries in the camp for the club’s current run of seven straight defeats.