Wasps may have to wait a little while longer to unleash Malakai Fekitoa back into Gallagher Premiership action.
The former All Blacks international has been sidelined since injuring his groin during the Premiership semi-final victory over Bristol Bears in October. He also underwent shoulder surgery during that period.
Fekitoa shared an image on social media last week marking he has returned to full training, but Wasps head coach Lee Blackett hinted that Sunday’s visit of Harlequins to the Ricoh Arena may come too soon for the Kiwi.
“It’s great to have him back,” he said. “He still has a few things to tick off but in the next couple of weeks I expect to see him on the field for us. It will be touch and go to see where he was at for the weekend but we will see where he is at.”
Wasps were set to be without captain Joe Launchbury until the end of March after being selected in England’s 28-man squad for the Six Nations.
But he has been withdrawn from international duty due to a fibia stress fracture and was replaced in the squad by Charlie Ewels of Bath.
“We were on an artificial surface the other day for the first time so whether that has aggravated it slightly,” said Blackett. “Joe spoke to us after that. We wanted to scan it and make sure it wasn’t serious, but it’s come back like this.
“We fully expect him to be out for up to six weeks. Ideally, he will stay with us and our medics and we’ll try our best to get him back for the last couple of games of the Six Nations, that’s our aim for Joe.”
Better news for Wasps comes in the form of winger Zach Kibirige, who has missed the last two games after being knocked out away at Sale Sharks.
“The two-week break came at a good time for him,” said Blackett. “He passed everything a long time ago but it just didn’t sit right with everyone at the club to just put him back two weeks after that injury.
“Now he is a few more weeks down the line and he is absolutely fine. He is back in full training now for the past four weeks.”
Fullback Rob Miller is also back in training after recovering from his knee issue that has kept him out since October while Biyi Alo (hand), Alfie Barbeary (syndesmosis) and Sam Spink (foot) continue their recoveries.
Centre Ryan Mills is still ‘a couple of weeks away’ from returning to full training following his foot bone break back in September.
Wasps will not be able to select Paolo Odogwu, Dan Robson or Tom West while they are in England’s main squad but are free to play Jack Willis,Jacob Umaga and Charlie Atkinson, who were named in England’s shadow squad.
Matteo Minozzi, who declared himself unavailable for Italy’s Six Nations campaign, is available for Wasps ‘if we need him’ – according to Blackett.
Forwards (26): Biyi Alo, Alfie Barbeary, Kieran Brookes, Tim Cardall, Josh Caulfield**, Tom Cruse, Levi Douglas, Lasha Jaiani, James Gaskell, Ben Harris, Joe Launchbury, Simon McIntyre, Ben Morris, Gabriel Oghre, Jack Owlett, Will Rowlands, Brad Shields, Tommy Taylor, Jeff Toomaga-Allen, Sione Vailanu, Theo Vukasinovic, Tom West, Jack Willis, Tom Willis, Thomas Young, Zurabi Zhvania
Backs (21): Charlie Atkinson*, Josh Bassett, Michael Le Bourgeois, Malakai Fekitoa, Jimmy Gopperth, Juan de Jongh, Zach Kibirige, Rob Miller, Ryan Mills, Matteo Minozzi, Paolo Odogwu, Will Porter, Dan Robson, Callum Sirker, Will Simonds, Lima Sopoaga, Sam Spink, Jacob Umaga, Ben Vellacott, Marcus Watson, Sam Wolstenholme
* – academy player
** – on loan