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Coach provides Round 11 update

As the nib Newcastle Knights prepare for Sunday’s match against the Penrith Panthers, coach Nathan Brown provided a squad update following Thursday’s training session.

“We have a few blokes carrying some niggles, so whether they make it or not we’ll have to wait and see,” Brown commented.

“Jaelen (Feeney) hasn’t been able to train yet... whether he makes game day or not we probably won’t know until Saturday.

“It will just be a straight swap with Hokko (Trent Hodkinson), he has had two great games in Reserve Grade and is waiting for an opportunity.

“Jaelen played very well the other day and you’d like to see him play again, he’s earnt the right to play but rugby league is a rough game and sometimes these things happen.”

Forward Lachlan Fitzgibbon has already been ruled out with a knee injury while Anthony Tupou’s chance of playing this weekend is also unknown.

“Anthony Tupou is carrying a bit of a hip problem so he’s very doubtful at the minute,” added Brown.

In good news, Knights forward Mitch Barnett is back in the squad after a hiatus from an ankle injury.

“At a pinch he could have played last week,” said Brown.

“He has trained all week, and got through the week well so he’ll play for sure.

“Barney is a good, hard trainer, and he is disciplined.

“Our medical staff have all worked around the clock on a number of players over the past few weeks to get them all up to game day.”

After a week off, Brown confirmed forward Sam Stone is back in the mix.

“Fortunately young (Sam) Stoney is fit, he’s been back playing really well for us,” he said.

“He needed a break after he played with the Aussie Under 20s side, which is a great reward.

“He didn’t have any time off and he certainly needed a break and I think the break has done him well.”

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The Knights coach said Brendan Elliot is also waiting for an opportunity.

“Brendan trains on the wing and in the centres and at fullback,” commented Brown.

“We will probably make some decisions on Saturday when we know who's fit and who is not.

“Unlike this time last year, we have a little more depth with players that have been performing well in reserve grade or performing pretty solidly in first grade before they went out.”

Meanwhile, the coach was asked to provide an update on winger Nathan Ross.

“At the moment, (Nathan) Rossy is out there training with the rest of the squad, we’ll make a decision later in the week,” Brown explained.

“With the squad training as we always do, blokes play in all different positions in both teams.

“I would suggest Rossy didn’t handle it in the correct manner but we’ll move forward and we’ll get over it.”