Earlier tonight it was confirmed that Jonny Lomax and Mark Percival would not feature in the World Cup.
They join the likes of Alex Walmsley, Liam Farrell and Harry Newman in not being fit to feature for England in the biggest World Cup in the sport’s history in a major blow for Shaun Wane.
Lomax has been managing a ruptured bicep all season and won the Harry Sunderland Award in the Grand Final despite this. However, it is now time for him to recover. As for Percival, he has only just returned from injury having a bruised bone in his knee and has also been told that to play for England would be pushing it. But who will replace the two when it comes to Wane’s England squad which will be announced tomorrow?
Jonny Lomax – Marc Sneyd, Harry Smith and Jackson Hastings
It’s expected that Wane will certainly include George Williams in his squad. Williams played in the game against the Combined Nations earlier this year and despite a tough year at Warrington is a Wane player, one Wane developed and is certainly still a star shinning at both Wigan and Canberra previously. Against the Combined Nations, he was joined by Jack Welsby who is also a certainty in the squad and provides cover for fullback too. But at least one more halfback should be named and it could be one of three men: Sneyd, Smith or Hastings.
It was been spoken about a lot recently that Sneyd has been training with the England squad. A man who knows how to manage a big game, a goal kicker and a tactical kicker he would replace a lot of what Lomax would bring.
Harry Smith meanwhile won’t be playing for Wales and after a brilliant season for the Warriors deserves a call up. His creativity could be key.
The most obvious replacement would be 2019 Man of Steel Jackson Hastings. He has battled back from injury to be available but it seems unlikely that he will be included with Wane not yet hinting at this possibility.
Mark Percival – Mike McMeeken, Zak Hardaker, Liam Sutcliffe and Jake Wardle
As with Lomax, there are two men you would expect to be named in the squad as centre options anyway. That’s Herbie Farmworth who has been brilliant for Brisbane this year and Oliver Gildart who has had an up and down season but has been superb for England in the past. But who should be the third centre option?
You’ll see that I’ve included Mike McMeeken up top, this is because he may not have made the cut originally with Kallum Watkins starring at second-row for Salford this year but this injury could see Watkins move to being more of a centre option for England creating more chance for McMeeken to play. Equally, Dominic Young seems set to be included after scoring tries for fun for Newcastle and of course after not being included in Jamaica squad yesterday. Capable of playing centre, we could see a winger like Ash Handley or Liam Marshall called up.
But in terms of natural centres, Jake Wardle is one Wane may consider. Wane named Wardle in his side against the Combined Nations so he has experience with him. Wardle may face competition from Leeds duo Zak Hardaker and Liam Sutcliffe. Both have been in fine form on the road to Old Trafford. Hardaker offers fullback cover and has England experience whilst Sutcliffe is fresh off a hat-trick on the road to the Grand Final.