SHAUN Wane says he will go with his “gut feeling” as he decides the make-up of his team for next week’s trip to Widnes.
Since the Vikings installed an artificial pitch, Wane has never fielded a full-strength squad at the Select Security Stadium – leading to nerve-shredding encounters.
In 2012, Denis Betts’ outfit edged a nail-biter by 37-36, while last season a Wigan side with an average age of just 21 got revenge with a 33-32 victory.
With just three games to go before the play-offs, the Warriors can not afford to drop points if they are to realise their ambitions of a top-two finish.
Just one point separates Wigan, in second, from Huddersfield in sixth, and with heavyweight match-ups against Leeds and Warrington to come, Wane knows how vital victory next Friday’s encounter may prove to be in the final mix.
“I will go with my gut feeling,” he said. “It’s a really important game for us.
“We went there with a young side last year and still got the win. I will put a team out there to do a job, whether (the likes of) Sean O’Loughlin and Micky McIlorum are in it or not.
“The important thing is we get a performance, because there were certain areas in our last game (a 14-14 draw at Hull KR) were we weren’t up to scratch, and we need to fix that up.”
McIlorum is expected to be fit after recovering from a broken arm and winger Joe Burgess (knee) and centre Ian Thornley (pectoral) are both inching closer to returns – giving Wane a near-full squad to select from.
Incidentally, Wane has never publicly criticised the artificial pitch at Widnes, citing injuries and his desire to blood young players as reasons for fielding weakened sides in the past.
But with so much potentially riding on the outcome of next Friday’s encounter, fans will be interested to see if he rotates his line-up or not.
Wigan are now back on home territory after a four-day camp in Bath.
Widnes were forced to defend their 4G surface shortly after it opened in 2012 after several players reported injuries, though the debate has since died down.