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Waiting game for Saints’ World Cup hopefuls

St Helens' Kyle Amor is among the players likely to go to the World Cup
St Helens' Kyle Amor is among the players likely to go to the World Cup
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More than a handful of English-born Saints’ players will be keeping their fingers crossed that they will be taking part in the greatest showpiece in the Rugby League calendar.

Head coach Wayne Bennett is due to name his final England squad at noon today (Monday) for the 15th World Cup which will be staged in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea between October 26 and December 2, and no doubt he will have considered the claims of Mark Percival, Jonny Lomax, James Roby, Matty Smith, Alex Walmsley, and Tommy Makinson.

Not all of them will board the jet heading Down Under, which goes without saying, and at this moment in time I believe centre Mark Percival is the only racing certainty to be pencilled-in.

Percival, 23, has had an outstanding season, scoring 17 tries and landing 96 goals.

Team-mate Roby, who has been in a rich vein of form in Super League XX11 and played in the last World Cup, is also in contention and will, if selected, not only bring a wealth of experience to the table but skill and a phenomenal work rate and is described by his Saints’ boss, Justin Holbrook, as ‘the best hooker in the Super League comp.’

Lomax, too, is a strong contender but whether his switch from full back to half back when Aussie Ben Barba’s 12-match NRL ban ended at the end of August will affect coach Bennett’s thinking only the Aussie boss knows.

Winger Makinson may also be knocking on the door but at the same time Smith must be more than a little concerned about his prospects of getting the nod from Bennett.

The scrum half has had an up and down season due to injury and fewer matches under his belt than he would have liked and it would be a surprise if he in selected the 24.

Finally, on the England front, I’m hoping Super League’s top metre maker in 2017, Alex Walmsley, gets a call up he richly deserves because he has been left in the wilderness far too long.

The prop forward could so easily have nailed his colours to the Scotland mast due to family ancestry - but is desperately keen to play for the country where he was born.

Give him a spot, Mr Bennett, when you name the squad, or you may come to regret it.

As far as the Welsh squad is concerned, I expect Saints’ trio of Regan Grace. Morgan Knowles and Calvin Wellington to be in coach John Kear’s final squad but whether there will be places for Elliot Jenkins and Ben Morris - still to make their senior debuts at the club - remains to be seen.

At the same time it looks likely that prop Luke Douglas will be included in the Scotland squad which will also be announced today (Monday).

Kyle Amor, who was in the England train-on squad earlier in the year, has now been selected for Ireland along with team-mate Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook and former St Helens full back Shannon McDonnell.

And also good luck to Saints half back Theo Fages who has been chosen to skipper the French side in the competition.