FANS are already counting down the days until they will be allowed back inside Leigh Sports Village-and so too are Centurions’ players.

Leigh’s derby clash with Wigan is one of five Betfred Super League games taking place on May 17 as the sport takes a major step towards normality by allowing supporters to once again attend matches.

Strict protocols will remain in place with a reduced capacity-still to be confirmed-and social distancing part of a package of measures designed to keep people safe.

But after a testing and winless start to their return to Super League, playing in front of a vocal and partisan crowd will be a major boost to John Duffy’s squad.

With a free weekend coming up due to an early exit from the Challenge Cup, Centurions will have the best possible preparations for the much-anticipated visit of their unbeaten neighbours.

“It’s going to feel weird,” agrees Matty Wildie, pressed into the scrum half role for last Friday’s 22-12 home defeat to champions St Helens.

“But at the same time, we know what noise the Leigh fans can make. With it being a derby as well, it should be a great occasion.”

Despite this latest defeat-though with a much-improved performance from previous weeks- Wildie says he and his teammates aren’t too downhearted.

“There have been harsh words and we are disappointed with results,” he acknowledged.

“But we are keeping positive so we can build and improve. Hopefully, that result isn’t too far away.”

A first win almost came in the opening game against Wigan before the Warriors hit back from 18-0 down to win 20-18.

Adrian Lam’s side has gone on to win four more league fixtures and on Saturday face Hull FC for a place in the Challenge Cup semi-finals.

Leigh are bottom, one of two teams without a victory and with the worst points difference.

However, a re-run of 2017’s epic 50-34 success over Wigan at LSV which lifted Centurions off the foot of the table should be a main plank of motivation ahead of this latest head-to-head.

*Leigh have sent good wishes for a speedy recovery to St Helens forward James Bentley whose injury late in last Friday’s game has now been confirmed as a broken leg plus ankle damage. Bentley spent a spell on dual registration with Centurions in 2019.

His Saints’ teammate, Matty Foster is making good progress after suffering a double fracture of his jaw in Leigh’s game against Wigan at Leeds and could be set for a playing return within a month.