TONY Smith leads his Warrington Wolves troops into Boxing Day action saying fans should take the recently released squad numbers with a pinch of salt.
He declared that the 24-strong list gives no indication of a player starting the season in a first-term shirt or potentially spending time on dual registration with Championship partner club Swinton Lions.
The only addition to last season’s opening squad numbers, Ben Currie, is one of 11 from Wolves’ Grand Final winning under 20s side named alongside established first-teamers for the trip to Widnes Vikings on December 26, kick off 3pm.
And although Currie will have 24 on his back in 2013 it will not automatically mean the 18-year-old Great Britain Academy back rower will play a more prominent role.
Other factors will dictate but with selection on Boxing Day Smith has opened the door for him and fellow young guns to build on this year's performances and stake a claim for the opening Super League clash with Castleford Tigers on February 3.
“I wouldn’t read too much into squad numbers,” said Smith.
“We have to allocate the numbers to a player and whether they are picked will depend on form, their abilities and how fit they are.
“We have 25 numbers and more than 30 players that are good enough, so what number they have been allocated or even if they have a number should not indicate anything.
“Whoever is in the best form early enough will have first shot at a place and therefore many of those guys who play in the Boxing Day game will be vying for a place in early season.”
Garreth Carvell (knee), Paul Wood (groin), Rhys Williams (knee) and Gareth O’Brien (shoulder) are in line to make comebacks from surgery.
Tickets priced £12 adults, £10 concessions and £6 juniors for the Stobart Stadium’s East Stand are available from WolfWare and 08448 111176 until end of trading on Christmas Eve. Match day prices from the Vikings ticket office rise to adults £15, concessions £12 and juniors £8.
Wolves’ Boxing Day squad: Gavin Bennion, Danny Bridge, Jordan Burke, Garreth Carvell, Mike Cooper, Ben Currie, Brad Dwyer, Rhys Evans, Ben Harrison, Micky Higham, James Laithwaite, James Mendeika, Richie Myler, Gareth O'Brien, Gene Ormsby, Chris Riley, James Saltonstall, Ryan Shaw, Rhys Williams, Paul Wood.
Vikings: Dave Allen, Danny Craven, Hep Cahill, Ben Davies, Chris Dean, Paddy Flynn, Alex Gerrard, Tom Gilmore, Grant Gore, Rhys Hanbury, Willie Isa, Phil Joseph, Ben Kavanagh, Adam Lawton, Macgraff Leuluai, Stefan Marsh, Joe Mellor, Jack Owens, Cameron Phelps, Matt Sarsfield, Frank Winterstein.