Penrith five-eighth Jamie Soward could make a surprise return to NRL action as soon as next week, according to skipper Peter Wallace.
In a much-needed boost for the depleted Panthers, James Segeyaro, Elijah Taylor and Dean Whare are expected to be back on deck for coach Ivan Cleary when the Panthers take on ladder leaders Brisbane on Friday week.
Soward and Wallace are slated to return the following round against Manly, but the Panthers captain believes his halves partner remains a chance of coming back earlier.
“Jamie’s going good actually,” Wallace told AAP.
“He trained [on Wednesday], and trained pretty well. It might be pushing it for next week. Definitely Manly’s a good goal for him.
“But I’ll say he’s a slight chance [for Brisbane].”
“[Segeyaro is] going good. Hopefully he’ll be right for Brisbane. He just had to give his elbow a bit of a rest. He tore a ligament in there and it just wasn’t worth playing a week later. The bye came at a good time for him.
“And ET’s a bit the same. He stirred up his knee a bit. Hopefully a week off will have him right for the next game as well.”
Soward would be a massive inclusion for the Panthers, who have been without both their starting playmakers for the past three weeks.
The former St George Illawarra man has been sidelined since undergoing back surgery after their Round two win over the Gold Coast, while Wallace also went under the knife not long after to repair damage to his reconstructed right knee.
“I’m hoping it’ll only be a few more weeks. It’s all going well. It feels a lot better than it did, which is good,” he said.
“We haven’t really put a time on it. They said 4-6 [weeks], so it’s probably more likely six at this stage.”