SAM Tomkins’ return to the Wigan side next season could be delayed because of the knee injury which has wrecked his England hopes.
The full-back was yesterday left “devastated” after being forced to withdraw from the national squad for the three-Test series against New Zealand.
And it raised fears he will miss the start of Warriors’ Super League season in three months’ time – and the World Club Series match against Brisbane.
Tomkins, 26, may discover the extent of the injury – and a likely recovery time-frame – within the next few days.
If he is sidelined, Wigan may decide to pull the plug on Ryan Hampshire’s proposed loan move to Castleford. All parties are thought to have agreed the move, which has yet to be confirmed.
But the Warriors could exploit an option to recall the 20-year-old, who played 15 games last season – many from full-back.
Coach Shaun Wane has other possible alternatives for the role.
Centre Dan Sarginson, who himself missed the end of the season with a knee injury, has impressed in his few outings in the No.1 position.
And with teenager Oliver Gildart doing so well in the left-centre role at the back-end of last season, that could be a realistic option.
Utility back Lewis Tierney can also play in the position.
Tomkins took to social media to say he was “gutted” to miss the Test series against the Kiwis, which starts at Hull this Sunday.
He originally suffered the knee problem playing for New Zealand Warriors in August.He was hopeful he would recover in time to play in this upcoming Test series, but the problem resurfaced during training on Tuesday.
Wigan Chairman Ian Lenagan said: “Our priority is a proper and permanent solution that ensures Sam’s long-term health and fitness.”
England Coach Steve McNamara added: “Sam is devastated to miss out. He was looking forward to the month ahead with England and making a huge impact.”
McNamara, who has opted against drafting in a replacement, will today name his squad for the opening Test.
He is expected to stick with the same line-up which beat France by a record 84-4.
That would mean starting places for Warriors’ Joe Burgess, John Bateman, George Williams, Liam Farrell and Sean O’Loughlin.