JOE Burgess is poised to blast back into contention this week.
The winger has recovered from a knee injury which threatened to derail his season and is available for selection.
But Shaun Wane hinted he may ease him back into action with an Under-19s game first before he recalls him to his left wing role.
Burgess has not played for the U19s all season – a testament to his success – but could feature at Bradford on Thursday night, rather than in the Super League clash at Widnes 24 hours later.
Wane said: “Budgie has done well and is fit again, whether he plays this weekend or not, I’m not too sure.
“I might give him a game in the U19s first. If I do, I’m more than happy with the other wingers (Josh Charnley and Dom Manfredi) we’ve got.”
If Wane does put Burgess in with the U19s, it will only heighten suspicions in some quarters that he has private concerns about Widnes’ artificial pitch.
His line-ups for the past two years have missed several key players. But Wane has vowed to field a strong team on Friday – possibly including fit-again hooker Mike McIlorum – to ensure they preserve their lead over Leeds, Warrington, Castleford and Huddersfield, who are all trailing the second-placed Warriors by a point.
Burgess has been one of the success stories of the season. Still only 19, he has justified Wane’s decision not to recruit a replacement for Pat Richards, scoring 19 tries in 22 starts and earning a spot in the England training squad.
He suffered a knee injury in the 37-16 victory at Catalan on July 12, and underwent keyhole surgery – a procedure which halved his recovery time to six weeks.
During his absence, Manfredi has filled the left wing spot, scoring four tries in as many matches.