Four stars back from injury for derby

Joe Burgess in England training
Joe Burgess in England training

Shaun Wane hopes to welcome four big-guns back to his side this week.

Fit-again Sean O’Loughlin, Micky McIlorum, Joe Burgess and Anthony Gelling could all be in the frame for the Good Friday showdown with St Helens.

Their return will provide a welcomed-boost to Wane, who has been without nine of his frontline players in recent weeks.

O’Loughlin, Burgess and Gelling have been out with knocks picked up earlier this season but McIlorum has not played since breaking and dislocating an ankle against Brisbane in the World Club Series in February 2016.

“Micky’s a good chance of playing over the weekend,” Wane said at his weekly press conference.

“I’ll decide which game he plays and how many minutes he plays but St Helens is looking favourite.

“He’s changed into somebody else, he’s gone from being a nice person listening to the physios and doing all the right things in the gym to someone who, all of a sudden isn’t speaking to anybody.

“He’s grumpy so I know he’s ready. Whether the physio says he’s good or not, me and him know when he’s ready to play and that’s now.”

Wane says McIlorum is likely to be on the bench on Friday, with Sam Powell retaining the hooking role after deputising so well in his absence.

“It might take three or four games for Micky,” Wane said. “I’m not expecting him to make line breaks, I just want him to get some minutes under his belt in a big game.”

Wigan second rower Joel Tomkins, who has played with McIlorum since they started out in the academy 13 years ago, says the return of the combative hooker will give the team a major boost as they seek to end a three-match losing run.

“It will be huge for us,” Tomkins said. “It will definitely add an extra motivation for us on Friday.

“Everybody has seen what Micky has been through, it was an horrific injury to start with and he’s had a couple of setbacks along the way.

“Micky plays so hard and trains so hard and has given so much up for the club, it’s been difficult to see him go through this last 14 months, so it’s great to see him come through the other end.

“He’s looking sharp in training. He goes into a mode where he’s pretty focused and he probably comes across as a bit grumpy but you can tell he’s got his mind on the game on Friday already. He’s in early and getting his body ready.

“I’m looking forward to seeing him play as much as the fans.

“He brings a bit of a fear factor for us, he leads the line in defence and puts these big shots on. He gives us an added dimension in defence and on attack he’s a smart player.

“The way Sam Powell has been playing has been unbelievable so to have both of them alternating will add an extra dimension for us.”

More than 21,000 tickets have already been sold for Friday’s derby.