Wakefield Wildcats’ task of upsetting the Super League form book and beating leaders Wigan Warriors on Sunday has been made tougher with three key senior players added to the injury list.
Ali Lauitiiti (foot), Paul Aiton (jaw and quad) and Tim Smith (shoulder) will miss the visit of Shaun Wane’s in-form men after suffering injuries in last weekend’s derby loss against Castleford Tigers.
But Danny Kirmond will feature after scans showed the Wakefield skipper did not suffer a fractured cheekbone, as first feared.
The loss of three influential players is a blow to Wakefield but head coach Richard Agar hopes their absence will not be long-term.
He said: “Hopefully the three guys missing from last week, we’re hoping it’ll be no more than a couple of weeks.”
Aiton has been one of Wildcats’ star performers so far this season but Agar revealed he was considering resting the hooker anyway with fatigue catching up on him.
“He’s been heavily worked,” said Agar. “We just feel he’s at the point where, apart from the fact his quad is going to stop him playing, we were contemplating on resting anyway.
“He’s a tough guy, one of the hardest blokes I’ve ever come across in the game, but at the moment we’re just careful we don’t want to smash him and push him over the edge, so he’ll certainly benefit from a rest.”
The injuries mean Kyle Wood, who was left out of last weekend’s Magic Weekend clash, is set to return to Wakefield’s 19-man squad for the visit of the Super League leaders this weekend.
Agar also says Frankie Mariano, who has been on-loan at Featherstone Rovers, will be “in the mix” for a place in the squad.
Paul Sykes, one of Wakefield’s other key men in the treatment room, returned to training this week and Agar says the former Bradford man could return for next week’s trip to Salford City Reds.