Matt Encarnacion, Western Sydney Correspondent, NRL.com
Panthers coach Ivan Cleary is set to call on forgotten pair Tim Grant and Kevin Kingston as the club deals with an injury toll that has the potential to derail their premiership campaign.
The club confirmed second-rower Elijah Taylor will miss the rest of the season with an ACL tear on Monday, while Brent Kite (pec) and Bryce Cartwright (ankle) are also due to see specialists over the next 48 hours to determine their exact injuries, but their hopes of seeing any more action in 2014 remain grim.
And with skipper Peter Wallace (knee) and impact weapon Tyrone Peachey (pec) also on ice until next year, Cleary has been forced to look to the wider squad to keep Penrith's finals campaign on target.
Rookie edge-player Isaah Yeo is also expected to come into Cleary's 17, but it's the return of the experienced duo in Grant and Kingston that will be a major surprise considering neither have played first grade since Round 10.
"[Tim] trained with first grade today because they had an extended squad today and he was one of the players brought up from Cup. Obviously his form's warranted that. Whether he gets a shot, I'm not sure, that's up to the coaching staff," Yeo told NRL.com on Monday.
Grant played just three more games with the NRL side after announcing a move to the Rabbitohs back in April, while James Segeyaro's inclusion in the starting line-up meant Kingston was deemed surplus to requirements.
Yeo said the club veterans handled their demotions with dignity and captured the culture the team was trying to create.
"That's probably the best thing that represents us, that culture," he said.
"And being a part of that group of kids that are young, it's something that can benefit me hopefully later on in my career. At the moment, it's very good for me being a young player to be able to see that and try and learn off those players."
Both Grant, 26, and Kingston, 31, have since helped Penrith's NSW Cup side wrap up the minor premiership last weekend, an achievement Yeo says gives the top squad confidence as they deal with their injury run.
"We understand that our NSW Cup team is doing very well so we've got players constantly coming up through there and constantly coming up pushing for selection," he said.
"We've got a lot of pressure taken off us because we've now got the underdog role. I think that takes a lot of pressure off from outside. In saying that, we've still got high expectations that we can do well comp, and we'll just keep pushing for that each week."
The third-placed Panthers could drop out of the top four should they lose to the Dragons in Wollongong on Sunday.