Warrington coach Tony Smith has backed young half-back Declan Patton to make the required impact for his side in Perpignan on Saturday as the injury-hit Wolves prepare for their first game since Wembley.
With six first-teamers out – including half-back duo Kurt Gidley and Chris Sandow – Smith will take a heavily-shuffled pack with him to Catalans on Saturday afternoon, with Patton set to partner Stefan Ratchford in the halves.
The youngster has found opportunities tough to come by in 2016 owing to the form of Gidley and Sandow, but Smith says he is confident he will take his opportunity after an impressive year for the club’s reserve side.
“He’s in good nick is Dec,” Smith told TotalRL.
“He’s been ready for the last few outings and I’m quite excited to give him an opportunity.
“It can be frustrating for him at this time of the year. He deserves a shot in many respects but he’s sitting behind the likes of Chris and Kurt – but Dec has been given an opportunity.”
Smith admits it took his side a couple of days to shake off the heartache attached to Wembley defeat last weekend, but says his side will be stronger because of it.
He said: “We did a lot of good things at Wembley. Statistically we showed up really well except the scoreboard, unfortunately. That’s hurt, because a lot of aspects of our performance were season-best. Whilst we’re disappointed with the loss, there’s no disputing the way we performed: in many aspects it was very encouraging.
“We’ll learn some lessons from the things we didn’t do so well.
“It’s a harsh lesson but the harsh ones are the ones which help you the most. We were flat for a day or two, but we’re now pretty determined to get back down to business.”
And with six players already out, Smith was rocked by a further blow on Thursday when forward Joe Westerman pulled out: although that was offset by another injured star putting his hand up to play.
“We’ve had another change since the squad was announced too; Joe is not going to be available now – he’s been for a scan and he’s got a slight tear in his calf muscle, similar to Daryl Clark.
“Ryan Bailey has put his hand up to play for us however, which is great. The young lads who are coming in are fresh though and they’re ready for their chance to put their best foot forward. In many ways we’re going to have a fair bit of freshness about us, which is no bad thing.”
Warrington fans – make sure you read Monday’s League Express for an exclusive update on Tom Lineham, the Wolves winger who has found himself out of the side in recent weeks.