SHAUN Wane is confident Micky McIlorum will be fit and firing for the start of the season even if he doesn’t play in any friendlies.
The combative hooker is on the comeback trail from an off-season bone graft on a troublesome elbow injury.
He missed Sunday’s 26-20 loss at Leigh and Wane doesn’t plan to include him in the side for Sunday’s second and final senior friendly, at Salford.
But the coach expects him to be in the mix for their Super League opener, at home to Catalans on February 5.
Wane said: “Micky won’t play against Salford but he’s back in full training now and whacking people!
“He should be good for the Catalans game.”
Wane will finalise his squad later this week but is expected to play some of the frontline stars who missed out last weekend.
Tony Clubb, Joel Tomkins and Dom Manfredi were in the provisional squad to face the Centurions but were rested with niggling injuries.
And in addition to the players returning from surgery – including Sam Tomkins, Dom Crosby, Dan Sarginson and McIlorum – Wane rested the five players who represented England in the series victory against New Zealand last autumn.
Of those, he says he may give the younger players – John Bateman and George Williams – some game-time against the Red Devils.
Liam Farrell, Matt Smith and Sean O’Loughlin are expected to sit out the trip to the AJ Bell Stadium, and prop Lee Mossop is a doubt after picking up a shoulder injury against Leigh.
He needs time to let swelling settle before it can be fully assessed, but the early indications suggested it was not a serious problem. Salford’s friendly at Featherstone last Sunday was called-off because of snow, forcing them to arrange an impromptu training session instead.
Director of rugby Tim Sheens said: “They have definitely worked out any frustrations at not being able to play the game we we will go into this weekend’s game with Wigan in good shape.”
Adult tickets are £15, over-60s £10 and under-16s £5.