SHAUN Wane is facing an injury crisis ahead of the Good Friday showdown at St Helens.
Wigan could be without up to NINE front-line players for their first-ever trip to Langtree Park.
Five players – Liam Farrell (thigh), Lee Mossop (ankle), Ben Flower (hamstring), Mike McIlorum (hip) and Thomas Leuluai (dead leg) – picked up injuries in last Friday’s 40-20 victory at Salford.
Captain Sean O’Loughlin and goal-kicking winger Pat Richards also have doubts over their fitness, having missed the match against the Reds with knee and thigh problems respectively.
And to compound Wane’s misery, star full-back Sam Tomkins has been grounded by tonsillitis.
With Epalahame Lauaki ruled out through suspension – and, of course, long-term absentee Stuart Fielden missing – Wane admits he is facing serious selection issues.
He told the Evening Post: “I’m concerned.
“I want to go to St Helens with my best team - and that is not going to happen.”
As if the situation with his senior players alone was not bad enough, Wane has the extra worry of knowing some of the youngsters who would be next in line for first-team chances are also ruled out.
Promising stand-off Sam Powell is sidelined with a broken leg, while Tom Spencer (sternum) and Don Crosby (hamstring) also picked up injuries at the weekend.
And Wane is keeping his fingers crossed that several of his troops make speedy recoveries this week.
St Helens have recovered from their early-season slump in form, winning back-to-back games against heavyweights Leeds and Warrington under the temporary coaching team of Mike Rush and Keiron Cunningham.
And this week’s derby will have extra spice – not only is it the first at the recently-opened Langtree Park, but it is the first meeting between these fierce rivals since Saints crushed Wigan’s Grand Final hopes last year.
Wane said it was hard to rank which of the injuries were more severe than the others, revealing all the injured players were in risk of missing out. He initially thought O’Loughlin – who suffered a bang to the knee in training last Thursday – and Richards would be fit to play, but is now not convinced.
He added: “They’re both still struggling, we’ll assess them throughout the week and make a call as late as we can.
“The others are all major doubts, and with Sam, anyone who’s had tonsillitis knows how it can really knock you down, so we’ll have to see how he progresses this week.
“But we’ll go there and have a dig, no matter who plays – we will be competitive.”