The loss of James Tedesco to a broken jaw is likely to be offset by the return of Luke Brooks from a knee complaint for Wests Tigers’ crucial round 24 NRL clash against Penrith on Friday.
The Tigers need to win their remaining three matches against the Panthers, the Warriors and Canberra to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2011.
The 10th placed joint venture sits one point behind Gold Coast in eighth place but they have been hit hard by the loss of NSW fullback Tedesco, who is expected to miss the remainder of the season.
However the Tigers are set to welcome back Brooks who has missed the last two matches due to a knee injury.
Brooks took part in the Tigers’ captains run at Campbelltown on Friday ahead of the loss to the Titans, but coach Jason Taylor erred on the side of caution in holding back his halfback.
The Tigers didn’t train on Monday, but Brooks is expected to take part in sessions on Tuesday and Thursday at their Concord Oval base ahead of the Pepper Stadium encounter with the Panthers, who sit on seventh on 26 points, a win more than Wests.
Back-rower Kyle Lovett was confident Brooks would be back on board for the final three games of the regular season.
“He was training last week and he looked pretty good, we will see how he is closer to Friday,” he said.
“It is always a boost getting a player like Luke back in the team he has been really good for us.”
Jack Littlejohn, who has filled in capably in Brooks’ absence, will fall out of Jason Taylor’s side upon the return of his first choice No.7.
Jordan Rankin will fill in for Tedesco, with Melbourne signing Josh Addo-Carr expected to be brought in on the wing.
“Obviously Teddy is a big loss to the team, he has been a great player for us,” Lovett said.
“But we have to get on with it, there are still three games to go and we are still a chance to get into the finals.
“Rankin is a chance to be there and we have a few other good outside backs who could fill in there.”
Lovett said Tedesco was in reasonably good spirits despite his latest injury setback.
“He said he is ok, we will find out how he is after surgery,” he said.
“He has had a few injuries but he is really good at bouncing back.”