SHAUN Wane will hand debuts to two more academy-products in Friday’s clash at Widnes.
The Warriors coach confirmed both Lewis Tierney and Ryan Hampshire are set to make their senior bows as he faces up to a crippling injury list.
A clutch of senior players have been ruled out.
Sam Tomkins, Matty Smith, Sean O’Loughlin, Blake Green, Mike McIlorum, Liam Farrell, Pat Richards and Ben Flower are not expected to be named in the 19-man squad today.
And that will throw open the door of opportunity for a clutch of promising youngsters with George Williams set for a recall and both Tierney, Jason Robinson’s son, and Hampshire thrust into the action in front of the Sky Sports cameras.
Anthony Gelling could also make a surprisingly early return from a shoulder problem and Epa Lauaki is fit again after a virus.
And Wane said: “I don’t want to see any players injured but this is a positive-negative for me.
“This is a good chance to give a couple of debuts, it’s exciting for me and I don’t see these weeks as disappointing, because I want to see how George goes again, Ryan Hampshire and Lewis Tierney – it’s a chance to see how they go.
“Lewis is an out-and-out full-back, very busy, very strong, he runs the ball well and he’s a Wigan kid so I expect him to be looking forward to it.
“When I asked him if he was ready, the look in his eye told me he is.
“Ryan is a halfback who is very talented, a good, smart kid and it’ll be good to see how he goes.”
On the injured players, McIlorum underwent a clean-out operation on his knee yesterday and prop Flower had a scan on an ankle problem which may require surgery.
Paul Prescott and Gil Dudson are still sidelined with longer term injuries.
Wane – who already handed debuts to Greg Burke and George Williams this year – fielded a young team last year at Widnes in a defeat.
And the fact he is doing so again will inevitably trigger speculation he doesn’t want to risk his front-line stars on the Vikings’ controversial artificial pitch.
He admitted he would “much rather it be a grass pitch” but asked whether people may think he has rested players, Wane replied: “They can go to Wrightington hospital and see if they want.
“I have injured players, what anyone thinks ... I couldn’t care.”