Tim Smith will be given until the last minute to prove his fitness ahead of Wakefield Wildcats’ season-opener at Bradford Bulls on Sunday.
The Australian half-back, Wakefield’s star man last season, is a doubt for the trip to the Provident Stadium (kick-off 3pm) after suffering an ankle injury in Wildcats’ penultimate trial game at St Helens.
Head coach Richard Agar said Smith, who turned 28 on Thursday, is “less than 50-50” to feature but will name him in his 19-man squad and assess his progress on Saturday morning.
“We’re going to get him on the field on Saturday morning but we’re not going to rush him back,” said Agar.
“He’s making terrific progress but unless he’s 100 per cent right we’re not going to play him because he’s probably too important for us, I want him fully fit and firing.
“There are 27 rounds to play yet so I’m not going to take any risks in Round 1.”
One man who has given Agar a boost by being passed fit is Kyle Wood, who was given the go-ahead to play after an operation on a detached retina.
The 23-year-old is set to be included in Wildcats’ 19-man squad but a failure to play in any of Wakefield’s trial games could limit his game time.
The late injury assessments have meant Wildcats have been training this week with every outcome in mind.
“We’ve worked on adapting our game a little bit on the fact that Timmy might not be there,” Agar commented.
“He’s a player that calls a lot of plays so we may well structure little parts of our game differently. But we’re ready for whatever outcome, we’ve made contingencies and we’ve practiced around them.”
Isaac John and Matty Wildie will be considered should Smith not be ready and Andy Raleigh will also be “in the mix” following sore ribs.
Chris Annakin will move to Dewsbury Rams on a dual registration deal but could feature on the bench for Wildcats this weekend, as could Kyle Trout.
Bobby Goulding, Lucas Walshaw and Danny Cowling are all set for dual registration moves to Doncaster.