HUDDERSFIELD Giants are to train in Portugal as if Martin Aspinwall will figure in the Super League XII opener against St Helens next month.
The Great Britain winger was today undergoing surgery on his troublesome groin injury and will miss tomorrow's week-long pre-season training trip to the Algarve.
Head coach Jon Sharp will obviously make provision in case Aspinwall fails to recover in time for the February 4 Galpharm showdown.
But at this stage, Sharp remains optimistic his main strike winger will face the Super League champions.
"Having the surgery now means he is in with a chance of playing against St Helens," said the Giants chief, who is taking a 23-man squad to the Brown's Leisure Complex.
"He was starting to struggle with the problem at training last week, and it was clear it wasn't going to go away.
"So we thought it would be best to get him in immediately and try and do what we can to make sure he faces Saints on the fourth.
"There's no guarantee, it'll be touch and go.
"But with a lot of the training sessions we have out in Portugal, we'll work as if Martin will be with us.
"We'll also take sessions as if he won't be there, but it is common practice to work on systems to cover for potential losses in a squad.
"After all, injuries are part and parcel of rugby league, and you have to make sure you're prepared for almost every eventuality.
"It goes without saying that if we didn't have Martin available it would be disappointing.
"But I am very confident we have more than enough cover to overcome a potential absence.
"Yet, at this stage, I'm not thinking that way."
On top of Aspinwall's groin problem, he missed training at the beginning of the week due to a chest infection.
Stephen Wild was also absent because of the problem, with both men missing the Giants' big sponsors' lunch on Monday.
Wild is now back in full training and will be able to take part in all the sessions out in the Algarve.
"Apart from Martin, we'll be taking a squad to Portugal that is looking in excellent shape," added Sharp.
"The players know they will be in for an extremely tough time while they're out there.
"I think they're ready."
Meanwhile, new big Bradford Bulls signing David Solomona is expected to play in his side's opening game against the Giants at Odsal on February 11.
The former Wakefield Trinity hero missed last year's Tri-Nations Series to have shoulder surgery.
But he has been in training for the last fortnight and plans to start full contact work during the Bulls' warm-weather camp in Lanzarote later this week.
"I'm definitely ready to start," he said.