MIKE McIlorum could be in line for a shock Test appearance this Saturday – as England look to take advantage of a disciplinary loophole.
The Wigan hooker was resigned to missing the match against Wales as he has one match of a three-game ban still to serve.
But officials investigated whether last Saturday’s England Knights game against Ireland could be counted towards the suspension – and were last night confident of getting the green-light.
An England RL spokesman declined to comment on the issue.
But the Evening Post understands McIlorum’s availability could be ratified as early as today.
The news will come as a pleasant surprise to McIlorum, who earlier this week spoke of his disappointement at being forced to sit-out England’s opening match of the autumn series.
The 24-year-old was hit with a three-game ban for a late and high tackle on St Helens’ Anthony Laffranchi in the final match of the regular season.
His appeal failed, and he sat out the play-off matches against Catalan and Leeds.
At the time, Wigan’s coaches enquired whether an Under-20s match could be counted towards his punishment - as three open-age players are allowed at that level - but were told it couldn’t.
However, while the Knights squad is largely made up of young players it doesn’t have an upper-age limit, and their match against Ireland was classed as a full international.
McIlorum was not in the Knights squad but as it is England’s second-string side, he - like any of the senior players - could play for them if Steve McNamara desired.
The tough-tackling No.9 travelled with the rest of the England squad to South Africa for a high-alititude training camp.
And while coach Steve McNamara would be confident of victory in Wales without McIlorum, he has been keen to see how he plays on the Test stage in the absence of incumbent James Roby, who has been rested.
After Saturday’s match against Wales, England face France in Hull KR the following week and are likely to face the same opposition the following week in the final, at Salford.