JONNY Lomax, who has been in a rich vein of form this season, is expected to recover from a slight hamstring strain and take his place in the Saints’ starting line-up against Wigan Warriors at DW Stadium on Good Friday.
Lomax - scorer of two early season hat-tricks - missed last week’s 14-10 home victory over Salford City Reds but his injury is not as bad as initially feared.
Coach Nathan Brown said yesterday: “Jonny should be OK for the Wigan game, even though when he suffered his injury, we thought he could be out for between seven and 10 days.
“We will not risk him unless he is 100 per cent fit but at this moment in time we are confident he will be available for selection which will be a bonus.”
First choice prop Anthony Laffranchi, who also missed the Salford game, will be back as well but both Lance Hohaia (groin strain) and Tony Puletua (knee problem) will be marked absent.
In addition, it will be interesting to see in which role Paul Wellens features. He had been expected to move to loose forward on his return to action against Salford after a four-match absence due to a calf injury but with his successful stand-in Lomax pulling out at the 11th-hour, it allowed the skipper to slot into his normal full back berth.
Now, in the continued absence of Hohaia, Brown can restore Lomax to his more familiar position of half back and keep Wellens at no.1, or come up with another option but at this moment in time is keeping his cards close to his chest.
“Paul will have an important role to play but at this stage it is a question of what it will be,” said a non-commital Brown. “We will know more in training later this week.”
It will also be Aussie Brown’s first experience of the rarefied atmosphere of a Wigan-Saints derby showdown.
“There is obviously great rivalry in games like this and I’m really looking forward to both the challenge and the occasion,” he said.
Brown added: “ If you win it is great but if you lose then you experience the
“However, all that really matters is who wins the two points. I have been in this country for four year now and to be honest I can’t tell you which club has won the most derbies in that time.
“What I do know is that winning a derby will give you local bragging rights but at the end of the day will not guarantee you a trophy.”
Both clubs will go into the game without a number of influential players through injury, which makes the outcome difficulty to predict, but in recent years Wigan have held the upper hand.
It’s now time for Saints to buck the trend.
The match starts at 12.15pm and will be screened live by Sky TV.
Saints round off their Easter weekend programme with a home game against struggling Castleford Tigers on Monday, kick-off 3pm.