High fives as Wane’s stars near fitness

Wigan's Sean O'Loughlin is nearing fitness
Wigan's Sean O'Loughlin is nearing fitness

SHAUN Wane hopes to welcome five key players back from injury this week.

England internationals Sean O’Loughlin and Liam Farrell, World Cup props Ben Flower and Eddy Pettybourne and Australian No.1 Matty Bowen are all in the frame for Thursday’s trip to Huddersfield.

Their likely return will compensate for the loss of hooker Mike McIlorum, who is unlikely to play after damaging knee ligaments in the 25-4 victory at Salford.

Wane is hoping the No.9 will be fit for the following week’s Challenge Cup quarter-final date against Castleford.

And he is pleased to see some familiar faces back in full training.

He said: “We’ll have a few players filtering back into the team over the next two weeks.

“We’ll have a better idea later in the week, but we’re hoping Lockers, Faz, Eddy and Ben will be okay for Huddersfield.”

Bowen could have faced Salford, Wane explained, but was given the night off to nurse minor injuries from the previous weekend’s win against Leeds.

The Warriors have been gripped by an injury crisis in recent weeks.

But with a Challenge Cup quarter-final looming, their problems are receding at a vital time.

In the last three weeks, Wane’s squad has virtually been dictated to him by the number of available players.

Against Salford last Thursday, his starting line-up had an average age of just 21.

But they produced a spirited display to back up the stunning wins against Leeds and Hull FC in the previous two rounds.

Wigan still sit fourth in the Super League table after Castleford reclaimed third spot on points difference by holding off Widnes to win 34-22 yesterday.

But Warriors have a game in hand are only two points off second placed St Helens and three from Leeds Rhinos at the summit of the table.

Winger Josh Charnley, centre Iain Thornley, forward Tony Clubb and stand-off Blake Green are still sidelined with injuries.