England coach Steve McNamara is hopeful of being able to select his World Cup squad from full strength after Melbourne stand-off Gareth Widdop resumed training.
Halifax-born Widdop was expected to miss the rest of the year after dislocating his hip in Melbourne’s NRL round-15 defeat by Gold Coast two months ago, but he was back on the field on Wednesday.
McNamara, who met up with members of his elite training squad near Manchester, is hoping the 24-year-old Widdop will make his comeback with his club during the play-offs and also is confident of having the services of hooker James Roby, half-backs Danny McGuire and Richie Myler and second rower Jame Jones-Buchanan.
McGuire, who has been out for three months with a broken leg, and Jones-Buchanan, who has missed the last two months with a knee injury, have been named in Leeds’ 19-man squad for Friday’s game against Catalan Dragons and Roby is set to make his return from ankle surgery in St Helens’ last match of the regular season on Friday week.
Myler, who is still troubled by a knee injury but has not yet been ruled out by Warrington coach Tony Smith, and Widdop remain the biggest injury concerns for McNamara, who was outlining his end-of-year plans to the England squad at their get-together in Bury.
Widdop, who dislocated his hip in front a spectating McNamara on the Gold Coast in June, was back on an exercise bike on Wednesday and took in some straight-line running.
Storm physio Tony Ayoub said: “Gaz is going fantastic. He’s started doing a bit of running and he’s chomping at the bit to get out there.
“We’ve not got clearance from the surgeon so we’re holding him back but you wouldn’t think he’s someone who has been out for nine weeks.”