Already without star Matt Moylan for six weeks, the Panthers are now holding their breath on the prognosis of five-eighth Jamie Soward.
Penrith arrived to training on Monday still counting the cost of Friday’s upset loss to Parramatta that claimed both their attacking linchpin and major playmaker.
While scans over the weekend revealed strained ankle ligaments that will keep Moylan out until round 19, they are yet to know the full extent of Soward’s injury.
Skipper Peter Wallace remains hopeful his halves partner could return as soon as this Saturday night’s clash against Melbourne.
“We’ll just see how he goes early in the week. He’ll probably get assessed later in the week and hopefully he’ll be right,” he said.
“It’s more painful than anything. You can probably play with it, but he’ll just have to see how sore it is.”
Soward was felled in a late shot by Eels forward Pauli Pauli that forced him from the field at a critical junction in the match.
He later returned with the aid of a painkilling injection, but failed to help Penrith come back against an Eels side desperate to end their four-game losing streak.
Wallace called on the NRL to do more protect the game’s little men.
“Probably just tougher penalties, whether it be sent from the field or tougher suspensions,” he suggested.
“If you’re taking the ball to the line, you expect to get hit, but he was a few metres off the line and still got late and he wasn’t looking over his back.
“It was a bit of an ugly one, but hopefully we don’t lose him for too long.
“Something has to be done before someone gets too seriously hurt.
“The worst thing is we lost a player and nothing happened to them. He got put on report and that’s it.
“I think that’s pretty unfair.”
Wallace’s return from a knee injury last Friday meant the team had their first-choice spine for the first time since round two, before Moylan went down just 10 minutes into the match.
Youngster Dallin Watene-Zelezniak is expected to fill in for the NSW hopeful, who hadn’t missed a game since the beginning of last year.
“He’s probably not as silky smooth as Matt, but he’s a powerful, strong, fast runner,” second-rower Isaah Yeo said.
“So I guess what he lacks in some areas, he probably gains in a few others.
“It’s up to the coaching staff whether they put Dallin in there or not but I think he showed on the weekend that he’s very capable.”
Winger Josh Mansour and utility Tyrone Peachey are both expected to be Ivan Cleary’s line-up when he names his team on Tuesday.