HALIFAX’S club captain James Haley will take another step on the road to a first team return tonight - but admits he may need to be patient as he waits for an opening in Karl Harrison’s table-topping line up.
Haley, Fax’s longest serving player who is currently in his benefit year after 10 seasons service at his hometown club, has yet to play in the Co-operative Championship in 2012 after close-season shoulder surgery.
But the talented centre or winger will make a third successive start for Fax’s under 23 side against Keighley at the Shay tonight (8.0) as his comeback gathers pace.
“I’ve had two full games and if I get another 80 minutes in tonight I don’t think I will be far off being match fit,” said Haley, who looks unlikely to be in contention for Sunday’s crunch date at Batley (2.0).
“Everything seems okay with the shoulder, I’m just trying to work my way back into the team.
“It’s been 16 weeks since the op, so you lose a lot in that time.
“But from the first game to the second game I felt 10 times better, and I’m hoping tonight is going to be better still.”
But with Fax boss Karl Harrison currently picking from a position of strength - even with centres Ben Heaton and Mick Nanyn sidelined - Haley recognises the size of the task facing him.
“It’s going to be hard to get back in, there’s not much I can do apart from wait now and bide my time,” he said.
“I’ve just got to be patient.
“We’ve still got that much competition, even with Nanyn and Heaton out and me not being there.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen; I’ve just got to wait for an injury or some loss of form.
“I want to be back playing as soon as I can though, because although it’s still early in the year it’s not the longest season in the world is it?
“We will be halfway through soon and I don’t want to see it as a wasted year.
“It’s unfortunate I never really had an opportunity to shine when Karl came in last autumn.
“I had to wait until I was fit and I am now, so hopefully over the next few weeks I can do enough to earn a chance.”
Super League leaders Wigan will be without prop forwards Paul Prescott and Ben Flower for up to six weeks due to injury.
Prescott damaged knee ligaments in the Warriors’ 18-4 Challenge Cup quarter-final win over St Helens on Saturday, while Flower injured a hamstring playing for the under-20s side at the weekend.
“Those two are out for the forseeable future,” said coach Shaun Wane.