Cronk and Slater racing the clock

Cooper Cronk could be out, while Billy Slater could be back – that is the news out of Melbourne heading into Saturday's Anzac Day clash with arch rivals Manly.

Slater looked to be moving well at the Storm's training session on Wednesday, fuelling speculation he could make a shock return this weekend.

The star fullback has missed the past two games with a right shoulder injury and is not expected back until after next week's Rep Round.

However his recovery leaves the door ajar for an early return, creating an interesting dilemma at the Melbourne selection table. 

Young gun Cameron Munster has been a solid performer in Slater's jersey in recent weeks but would have to make way should the champion fullback declare himself fit.

When asked whether Slater would make his return on Saturday coach Craig Bellamy was dismissive.

"I wouldn't imagine, no," he said.

As pleased as Storm fans would have been to see Slater at training, the absence of Cooper Cronk was a concerning one.

Cronk performed light duties behind closed doors on Wednesday after spending the past few days at home with what is being described as the flu.

The 31-year-old has also been battling persistent soreness after enduring a series of big hits in recent weeks.

Bellamy refused to put a line through Cronk, but admitted the clock was racing just three days out from the Round 8 clash.

"He's not doing too much today, he's still not real well to be quite honest," Bellamy said.

"We expect him to play Saturday but at this stage missing two days training has not been ideal. Hopefully we will be right for Friday's session but we will just have to see how he goes."

"He's been a little bit battered this year as well, especially in the Canberra game [two weeks ago] but he played last week, he's probably used to that now, it's part and parcel of the position he plays."

Ben Hampton, Cronk's expected replacement, was also unable to take part in Wednesday's session, forced to watch from the sidelines with hamstring soreness.

In contrast Manly has named Kieran Foran to return to their side and along with Daly Cherry-Evans could present the visitor's best chance of causing an upset.

The Storm will face Manly in one of five NRL games on Anzac Day, with kickoff at 6.15pm at AAMI Park.