Representative winger Josh Mansour looks set to return from a knee injury for Penrith against South Sydney next weekend as the struggling Panthers look to avoid a fourth straight NRL loss.
The Australian international has endured a frustrating season with injuries, playing a handful of games with his last appearance coming in the victory over Wests Tigers in round 16 late last month.
Penrith Ivan Cleary is hopeful of having Mansour back a couple of weeks earlier than initially expected to face the Rabbitohs at ANZ Stadium on Sunday.
The Panthers will need all the help they can get against Souths who they scored their last win against before losing three straight with Penrith’s latest defeat coming against Canberra on Sunday.
“He’ll have to tick a few boxes early in the week and we’ll go from there,” Cleary told AAP.
“We’re hoping he’ll be right for the game. He’ll have a few tests and provided he gets through them, we hope he’ll be fine.”
Cleary is also hopeful of getting veteran winger David Simmons back for the game after he was a late scratching from the 34-24 loss to the Raiders due to a hamstring injury.
Prop Nigel Plum is in doubt for the Rabbitohs clash and will be assessed during the week after he was concussed in a tackle by Canberra’s Josh Papalii who was placed on report for a shoulder charge.
The Panthers sit in 13th spot and two wins from the top eight and face a massive task if they are to upset Souths who looked to have recaptured their best form after dispatching Newcastle 52-6 on Saturday night.
The mountain men produced an outstanding display earlier this month to beat the Rabbitohs 20-6 with back-rower Bryce Cartwright starring in the victory, but premiers were without fullback Greg Inglis who scored a hat-trick of tries against the Knights on Saturday.