IAIN Thornley could be back to boost Wigan’s backline before the end of the year.
The double-winning centre was initially thought to be ruled out for the season after tearing his pectoral in the Good Friday victory over St Helens in April.
But he is ahead of the projected recovery time-frame and coach Shaun Wane is hoping the 22-year-old may be back ahead of the start of the Super League play-offs in September.
Wane said: “He’s looking good and it’ll be good to have him back. When it matters most he should be good.”
The coach says the seriousness of the injury, which required surgery, makes it difficult to put a date on when fans may expect to see him in the champions’ three-quarters.
But he is optimistic he will be able to add to the eight appearances he made at the start of Wigan’s title defence.
“There’s no pressure on him,” he said. “Once he’s fit, we’ll give him another week or two to make sure, there’s no rush.
“Nothing is won or lost yet – the important thing is having the players fit and available when it matters.”
Thornley was a Wigan academy-product who took an unusual route to the first-team, via a stint at Sale Sharks, before returning home in 2012.
Last year he replaced George Carmont in the left centre spot and helped Wigan to a Challenge Cup and Grand Final double.
But this season, he and fellow double-winning centre Darrell Goulding have faced intensifying competition for their places from London recruit Dan Sarginson as well as Kiwi Anthony Gelling, who is in career-best form.
Thornley’s agent Frank Endacott has been in the UK this month.
It’s understood Wigan have taken out an option on his contract to retain him for 2015.
Warriors Under-19s went down 14-12 to St Helens at Orrell on Saturday. Liam Forsyth and Nick Gregson scored Wigan’s tries.