Mitchell Pearce is expected to make his return from a calf injury for the struggling Sydney Roosters against Canterbury on Thursday night.
It is the second time this season the former NSW playmaker has been sidelined, after he served an eight-match ban at the start of the NRL season due to his Australia Day indiscretions.
Pearce returned in round nine in the Roosters’ thumping of Newcastle and also played in their defeat to Gold Coast a week later.
His last match was the last time the Tricolours played the Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium in round 11 in mid May.
The 27-year-old succumbed to a calf injury in the lead-up to the round-13 win over Wests Tigers in atrocious conditions at Allianz Stadium after the Roosters enjoyed a round-12 bye.
Jackson Hastings has deputised for Pearce since then.
The Roosters enjoyed the bye this round. They went down narrowly to the Warriors in Auckland last week, after their humiliating 46-0 defeat to Melbourne the week prior.
The three-time minor premiers have won only three games all season and, realistically, need to win nine of their last 10 games to qualify for the playoffs.
Boyd Cordner could also return for the Roosters in their round-17 Allianz Stadium fixture with the Dogs, in a sooner-than-expected comeback from a foot injury suffered in State of Origin III.
Canterbury can move into the top four with a win over the Roosters if Brisbane lose to Melbourne at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
Pearce is expected to return against the player whose Blues five-eighth jumper his took last season – Josh Reynolds.
“Even though they are down the bottom of the table, clashes between the Roosters and us are always very physical and tight and I’m expecting the same on Thursday,” Bulldogs five-eighth Reynolds told AAP.
A Roosters win could lift them above Manly to third-last on the NRL ladder.
Teams for round 17 will be named on Tuesday.
The Bulldogs have won their last six games.