ENGLAND boss Shaun Wane has given Saints three-quarter Mark Percival all the encouragement he needed to hear after suffering an injury-devastated 2020.

A shoulder injury and then a troublesome hamstring limited the 26-year-old to just five matches last term - ending prematurely in September.

After undergoing surgery to sort the issue, Percival is now rehabilitating ready for the season start in March.

He may have been sidelined when his replacement Jack Welsby grabbed the Grand Final winner, but Percival remains high in the thoughts of the England boss.

When asked what he had said to Percival after missing out last year, Wane declared: “Word for word – I said I rate you, don’t be disappointed, you are a very good player.

“You will be in my starting line-up and you have got this year to make sure I don’t change my mind.

“When you come back from injury you will come back stronger than ever.

“He is a very professional kid and he will look after himself and I am a big Mark Percival fan so he does not need to worry about that.”

Percival is one of six Saints currently in his squad preparing for the autumn’s World Cup, with Morgan Knowles recruitment from the Wales not necessarily being the additional last piece of his squad.

Although England are well-blessed in the back row, James Bentley produced a string of high-quality performances for Saints – especially in the Grand Final.

Which begged the question about the Leeds-born Irish international.

Although not referencing Bentley in his response, Wane added: “I will look at players who are eligible to play for England and improve us this year.

“My mind will never change – if someone can make us better I would look at bringing them in.

“Morgan made that choice and decided to come to England and will hopefully get the benefit from that.”

Wane has brought in former Saints wing Ade Gardner to join his backroom team, along with Chris Barron from Warrington and Mark Bitcon – Wane’s former director of performance at Wigan.