Wigan Warriors captain Sean O'Loughlin has spoken of his deep frustration after being ruled out of Saturday's showdown with First Utility Super League leaders Leeds Rhinos.
The England loose forward has endured a hugely-disrupted last 12 months, playing just five matches in the last four months of the Warriors' double-winning 2013 campaign and missing seven of their 14 matches so far this year.
O'Loughlin was poised to return against Leeds earlier this month after recovering from a neck injury but pulled a groin muscle in the last training session.
"I've not done any running since before the Leeds game," said O'Loughlin, who attended the launch of the Magic Weekend in Manchester on Monday. "I'll probably have a run this week but I'm not sure when I'll be back.
"It's been a bit stop-start for me but I'm hoping I can get on top of it now. If it's not this week, it's definitely the week after.
"It's not one main injury, just a couple of little things that I've had since the start of the season. That's the most frustrating thing, coming at the beginning of the season when you're real keen to get going.
"I just want to get back playing again and get some games under my belt."
O'Loughlin's woes began when he injured a knee in Wigan's 20-16 win over Leeds at the 2013 Magic Weekend last May.
The Warriors' three league defeats this season have all come in the absence of their inspirational captain and he is likely to be one of 10 players missing for the clash with the Rhinos, which will bring down the curtain on day one of Magic Weekend at the Etihad Stadium.
Liam Farrell, Matty Bowen, Josh Charnley, Iain Thornley, Ben Flower, Eddie Pettybourne and Ryan Hampshire, who all missed last Friday's 44-16 win at Hull FC, are unlikely to return and they have been joined on the injury list by Tony Clubb, who will be out for four to five weeks with a knee injury, and Ryan Sutton, who was concussed at the KC Stadium.
"We're absolutely down to the bare bones," said head coach Shaun Wane who is set to bring two 18-year-old forwards, Rob Lever and Ben Austin, into his 19-man squad for Saturday's game.
"I'm gutted but going to Hull last week lacking eight first-teamers and losing two middles for 75 per cent of the game but scoring forty-odd points against a full-strength Hull team means I'm not stressed about it.
"I want us to win this game on Saturday and I genuinely believe we'll be competitive."