The Newcastle Knights have been unlucky when it comes to injuries this season, but there a number of players getting close to a return.
While players such as Chris Houston, Jack Stockwell, Dave Fa’alogo and Adam Clydsdale are ruled out for the match against the Brisbane Broncos, as well as the suspension of Kade Snowden, head coach Rick Stone says the team could be welcoming back several others.
First up is Jarrod Mullen, who has been on the sidelines since Round 8 with a toe injury.
“He’s been gradually stepping up his work in the last couple of weeks,” Stone said at a press conference on Tuesday morning.
“He’s had some down days and some up days, and he’s changed a few things around his footwear and his orthotics.
“But we’ve been working to get some sort of conclusion there and it looks like he’s running around pain-free, which is good.”
Stone was quick to make clear that Mullen isn’t out of the woods just yet though.
If the five-eighth trains on Thursday with no complications he will be cleared to get on the plane to Brisbane.
Second on the list of players possibly returning is halves partner Tyrone Roberts, who suffered an ankle injury against the Warriors in Round 12.
“That ankle was getting real close at the end of last week, but it wasn’t quite there in the end,” Stone explained.
“He’s back this week running a bit more freely and the couple of days off have probably helped him.”
Having both Mullen and Roberts back would be a massive boost for the Knights before they face the tough challenge of trying to secure two points at Suncorp Stadium.
As would the inclusion of veteran lock Jeremy Smith, who has now been out for over a month with a sternum injury.
The New Zealander has trained for the last two weeks, but he still remains in some doubt.
“We are a chance of getting Jeremy back this week, so there’s a couple of plusses after losing some boys that are important to us,” Stone admitted.
As things stand, red and blue fans can tentatively look forward to some hopeful returns this Friday night at Suncorp Stadium.
The Round 16 team news is published at 5pm on newcastleknights.com.au, stay tuned for updates.