The Wigan hooker has not played since breaking his ankle against Brisbane last February.
He is optimistic he will get the green-light to make his long-awaited comeback in the friendly at Leigh - Wigan’s first match of 2017.
But the combative No.9 needs further surgery which will sideline him for a few weeks, ruling him out of the start of the new campaign next month, including the World Club Challenge against Cronulla Sharks at the DW Stadium on February 19.
He explained: “I have two plates in the ankle.
“They recommend you keep them in if they aren’t irritating you, but I’m getting some nerve pain.
“I’ve spoken to a couple players who had the plates out and they felt a lot better afterwards, so I want to get them out, it’s just a question of when.
“If it’s done before the (Leigh) game, there’d be no chance of playing, but it’s looking like it will be after that.”
McIlorum expects to be fit to play eight weeks after having the plates removed.
“I’m hoping to have it done as soon as possible, because obviously the longer it’s left the more it will eat into the season.
“But yes, I’d like to play in the Leigh game, being my testimonial.
“I start training properly next week and if I pull up okay, hopefully I’ll be good to play.”
McIlorum will launch his testimonial year - marking a decade in the first-team - with a benefit game at Super League newcomers Leigh Centurions next Sunday, January 22 at the Sports Village.
Previous ‘Battle of the Borough’ pre-season matches have been entertaining affairs, and there is more interest this year following Leigh’s promotion to Super League, Shaun Wane’s intention to play his strongest side, and the fact it is their only senior friendly in England this year.
They also face Catalans six days later to round-off a week-long training camp in France.