Wakefield Trinity coach Chris Chester has promised the club will not rush Tom Johnstone as he continues his recovery from a second serious injury in three years.
Johnstone suffered a serious knee injury last season, which prematurely ended his 2019 campaign. It was the second time in his young career that Johnstone has suffered an injury of that type.
He remains on track to be fit for the early part of the 2020 Super League season, but Chester has confirmed he will not feature in Boxing Day’s opening pre-season game against Leeds as they practise caution with his recovery.
“It’s been a challenging three years for him and we’re mindful of that,” he said.
“He’s had two ACL injuries in three years, and mentally that’s very challenging for him, but he’s had some great support from the club and people outside of Wakefield Trinity too.
“He’s going really well, he’s doing the majority of the training with the lads and he’s looking sharp, but we’re not going to push him. If we need to use another month to get him right, so be it. But the signs are positive; he’s training really well and everyone associated with this club can’t wait to see him back.”
Chester confirmed that Wakefield will head across West Yorkshire on Boxing Day without several frontline players, many of whom are recovering from long-term injuries like Johnstone.
“Tom, Tinirau Arona and David Fifita definitely won’t be available,” he said.
“James Batchelor, Joe Arundel and Craig Kopczak, who had a bit of surgery at the end of last season and then strained his calf, also won’t be fit yet, but we’re still looking strong. I still think everyone barring Dave Fifita has a great chance of being ready to play against Hull KR in round one.”
Fifita is continuing his recovery from a foot injury, and Chester said: “Dave being Dave, he’s confident he will be ready for the first game, but he hasn’t done any running yet. We have to be very careful with him, because he’s had a screw removed from his foot.”