Newcastle may be struggling for form, but they'll be significantly boosted by the return of several key forwards for their crucial Round 10 clash against Manly at Brookvale Oval on Monday night.
In the wake of the Club’s disappointing 32-10 loss against Penrith on Sunday, coach Wayne Bennett confirmed veteran forward Jeremy Smith could make a comeback from his knee injury against the Sea Eagles.
The Knights will also welcome back both Korbin Sims and Willie Mason from suspension for the match against the second-placed Eagles.
"Yeah we do, maybe three or four," Bennett said when asked if there will be any forwards returning.
"(Jeremy) will be pretty close and the two off suspension are coming back, so they are definite."
When it came to the forwards, Newcastle did their best up front against the Panthers minus Mason, Smith and Sims.
Props Kade Snowden and Adam Cuthbertson never gave up, while Beau Scott and rookie Joseph Tapine did likewise.
As much as there was effort though, coach Bennett is first to admit that his side are down on confidence.
"It’s a tough period, there’s no doubt about that," he says.
"Until last try right on full-time there, I thought the one thing we had done pretty well was that we hadn’t given up.
"There was a lot of reason to give up and there was a lot of reason to give up at different stages today.
"But we are a pretty fragile footy team.
"So we do things that make us even more fragile.
"To think that we played so well two weeks ago and not a great deal has changed.
"We came back and trained pretty well and everything was good to go today.
"Obviously we were depleted with players, but you expect the guys to put their hand up.
"But we go out there and have a game with a lot of effort in it, but not much execution at stages when it was important.
"So we’ve just got to stay it, we’ve got no alternative.
"There is enough quality in the place, it’s just a matter of not losing confidence in everything we do and why do it."
Asked what he meant by 'fragile', Bennett said: "Well typical of losing teams, you make a handling error and then you give a penalty away and then you get scored on.
"That’s the one thing the top teams don’t do.
"But we are fragile and we’re doing that right now and we’ve been doing it all season."
Knights skipper Kurt Gidley was bitterly disappointed with the loss, especially in defence.
"You don’t get a win for the effort unfortunately," Gidley laments.
"The most disappointing thing was defensively, especially after we had a pretty good defensive game against the Dogs.
"I know we were beaten in that game, but our desire was there and we worked hard.
"So to have a blow out score like today, it’s another step backwards again."
Asked how his team can turnaround their season, Gidley was frank with his answer.
"Well you’ve got to turn up to training and work hard," he says.
"There are no easy ways out of these sort of days. I’ve been there before and it’s hard work and you’ve got to be able to transfer your training stuff onto the game day.
"So kicking stones and heads down that won’t help us."