The North Queensland Cowboys are hopeful fullback Lachlan Coote and hooker Jake Granville will return for Thursday's Round 10 game against the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, while workhorse Shaun Fensom has been passed fit to play.
Despite the boost to their numbers the reunion is likely to be bittersweet with the absence of Johnathan Thurston due to the shoulder injury the co-captain sustained in the representative round.
Coote injured his calf in the Cowboys' Round 2 win over the Broncos, before re-injuring it in their victor over the Knights in Round 8, while Granville broke his fibula in the dying minutes of the Cowboys' Round 5 win over the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
Second-rower Coen Hess spoke about Lachlan Coote's chances, and what he would bring to the struggling Cowboys.
"'Cootie' was out there running around today, I'm not too sure to be honest I think it's up to the physio but I think they looked good," he said.
"'Cootie' has had a lot of experience he also… talks a lot so organisation is probably the best thing about Coote's game so he'll bring that."
Fensom is also hopeful that Coote and Granville will play, and is keen to take the field against the Bulldogs after narrowly missing being fit for the game against the Parramatta Eels.
"I was touch and go there the weekend before last but I felt safer not to play and I'm right to go this week," Fensom said.
The equal record holder for most tackles in a game was also optimistic that Coote's direction would help the Cowboys' defence strengthen against the Bulldogs, while taking full advantage of any attacking opportunities that appeared.
"He's got a lot of experience and talk. Talk at the back, directing and just popping up at the right times and the right place and that sort of thing he's very good at that," he said.
Fensom was unsure if Granville would play, but the Cowboys are hopeful that the premiership-winning hooker will take the field to add his offensive and defensive energy to the side.
The absence of Granville has coincided with a noticeable dip in the offensive performance of North Queensland, as they averaged 154 fewer run metres in their last four games compared to their first five.
The Cowboys have also struggled to stop teams rolling up through the middle of the field, most noticeably in their 26-16 defeat to the Wests Tigers in Round 6.
Fensom is looking forward to seeing the pocket-rocket hooker return to the field and bring his energy to the Cowboys.
"He's really quick out of dummy-half and he knows when to run, solid in defence and he's a good tackler too. He's just a little live-wire running around out there, lots of energy which is good."