WIDNES Vikings scrum half Joe Mellor came through his return match unscathed and will start against Warrington Wolves in Maundy Thursday’s big derby clash.
The half back is a key component of the Vikings plans going forward as they seek to pick themselves up after last Friday’s disappointing defeat at Wakefield that saw them move to the foot of the table.
After the return to fitness of Mellor and Alex Gerrard, Vikings also welcome back Chris Dean who suffered a bicep injury in the pre-season, but Macgraff Leuluai is sidelined.
Coach Denis Betts said: “Joe is feeling pretty confident and that was a test and trusting his rehab and his fitness.
“He played 30 minutes and he will come into the starting team.
“With Alex it will take time, but there were glimpses of how hard he used to tackle and how quick his play the ball is.
“There are a couple of things he needs to work on, but he needs to play.”
In a change-around from last term, when both sides were vying for top spot, this Thursday’s clash will see the loser bottom of the table.
After losing their first six games, pre-season favourites Warrington have taken three points from their last two outings and will come to Widnes with some confidence.
“Warrington have got a bit of confidence back, with Chris Hill and Stef Ratchford coming back in, and Declan Patton playing well in place of Kev Brown.
“But the derby atmosphere will give us a boost,” Betts said.
Widnes Vikings 19-man squad: 26. Tom Armstrong, 3. Chris Bridge, 24. Sam Brooks, 18. Greg Burke, 23. Jay Chapelhow, 22. Ted Chapelhow, 32. Danny Craven, 14. Chris Dean, 15. Gil Dudson, 16. Alex Gerrard, 1. Rhys Hanbury, 11. Chris Houston, 31. Jordan Johnstone, 17. Stefan Marsh, 6. Joe Mellor, 25. Tom Olbison, 4. Charly Runciman, 2. Corey Thompson, 12. Matt Whitley.
Indie band Space will be providing entertainment beforehand and at half time.