SAINTS coach Kristian Woolf has given an update on his first team squad after they all returned to training for their first full day since the Christmas break.

There is positive news with regards to Tommy Makinson and Morgan Knowles, who both underwent shoulder surgery in the winter.

And prop Matty Lees continued to make strong progress throughout the off-season after recovering from his perforated bowel injury.

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Skipper James Roby, however, needed further surgery on his groin before Christmas and is now likely to miss the opening game of the Super League campaign at the end of the month.

Woolf said: “All the blokes who have come back from international duty are all nice and healthy and building well.

“The couple of guys who had off season surgery are coming along really well, too.

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“Morgan Knowles and Tommy Makinson are really diligent, and they work really hard with their rehab as they do with their footy in general.

“Matty Lees has been back in full training since the two weeks before Christmas break.

“A big task with him with the type of injury he had is that he was ready to do contact, because he’s a tough fella, but we wanted to give him chance to recover physically and put some weight back on as well.

“We have probably held him back from things he wanted to do, but he is in full training now.”

Woolf does not sound overly alarmed by the Roby setback, with his absence in week one giving Aaron Smith a further opportunity to continue his development at nine.

“James Roby is coming along how we would like him to,” Woolf said.

“He has a little bit of a hiccup in that groin area and needed to get an extra bit of work done in the period before Christmas, but nothing has changed in the timescale of when we expect to see him back.

“He is not likely to start the season, but he will not be too far behind the start either.”

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The situation does not sound too dissimilar to last term, when the skipper’s appearances were managed to ensure he was right for the games that counted.

Maybe that is inevitable, given the 34-year-old is entering his 17th season in the first team, with a significant number of his 450 games in the red vee being 80-minute efforts.

Woolf’s task is to get as much as he can from a player he still classes as the best player in the team, while ensuring that his understudies are ready and able to take over.

Woolf said: “Any player that plays as many games at the level he has is going to have some wear and tear.

“Robes is a terrific professional and terrific fella as well as really good footballer. He is going to be fine.

“While we would love him to play round one, and all the way to the finals, but it will not hurt him in keeping him a bit fresher if he misses a game or two either.

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“We have to make sure Aaron Smith develops too, because he is a player with a lot of talent, he is going to be a good footy player.

“James Bentley is a really good, competitive and tough bloke who is going to give you everything he has got and everyone wants to play next to him because he does not let you down.

“Then Josh Eaves – another hooker - is training hard and competing hard, and although he has not played as much first grade he is keeping the others honest and knocking on the door as well.

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“What we have also got to figure out is not just how we get the best out of James Roby as he comes towards the end of his career, but how we keep developing those young blokes to make sure they are ready to take the reins at some stage.”