Wane gives out two more debuts as Tomkins sidelined

Kyle Shelford, a former England academy captain, is set for his Wigan debut. Picture: Sean Gosling
Kyle Shelford, a former England academy captain, is set for his Wigan debut. Picture: Sean Gosling

Shaun Wane will hand out another two Warriors debuts tomorrow night after his injury woes deepened – with Joel Tomkins the latest casualty.

England forward Tomkins has been nursing a knee injury for the past few weeks and was hoping to make it until the end of the season before surgery.

On Monday, Wane spoke of his hope he would be fit for the visit of Wakefield as a replacement for banned prop Lee Mossop. But Tomkins’ situation has drastically changed and he could face a prolonged spell on the sidelines.

Wane said: “We don’t know yet for certain, he’s going for another scan and to see the specialist. It’s on both knees... it’s not looking good.”

He hoped to put a timeframe on the 29-year-old’s recovery later this week.

With Micky McIlorum, Dom Crosby, Anthony Gelling, Liam Farrell and Tony Clubb also injured – and Mossop and John Bateman suspended – it leaves Wane’s squad heavily-depleted for tomorrow’s non-televised home clash.

Nick Gregson, who has played 10 first-team games this year, is also injured.

Wane considered pulling some youngsters, such as Jack Wells who has senior experience, out of the England academy squad’s upcoming tour of Australia, but opted not to rob them of “a chance of a lifetime”.

Instead, he has named Kyle Shelford and Macauley Davies in the 19-man squad and Wane hinted they would both play against Wakefield.

Loose-forward Shelford, 19, is the son of three-time Challenge Cup-winning Wigan prop Adrian, who died in 2003 aged just 39.

Shelford, a Shevington Sharks product, has captained England academy, while Davies, 19, is a former St Jude’s junior and has also played for England academy.

If they play, it will take the number of academy-graduates handed a Wigan debut this year to eight.

They are likely to be added to the squad which beat Catalans 26-6 on Saturday, replacing Mossop – banned for a game for a trip – and Greg Burke, who switched to Widnes on Tuesday.

Burke, incidentally, is included in the Vikings squad to face St Helens tomorrow.

He was released in part to squeeze mid-season recruit Frank-Paul Nuuausala under the salary cap.

The Kiwi international is still in Australia but Wane hopes he will be cleared to fly to the UK early next week, and could make his debut at Leeds next Friday, or at home to St Helens the following week.