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Ross set for surprise return

Newcastle are set to receive a boost for Friday night's clash with the Canberra Raiders with Nathan Ross training for the first time since suffering a back fracture against the Warriors three weeks ago. 

There were initial fears the fan favourite would miss the remainder of the season with the injury but he joined his teammates for a group training session on Tuesday in preparation for the clash. 

Knights coach Nathan Brown confirmed Ross would be included in the team's 21-man squad but the club will know more about his availability on Thursday.

"We'll name Rossy if he pulls up well today, as long as he gets through the session well and feels good," Brown said on Tuesday.

"He trained well, got through the session and contact.

"It's a good recovery, when it first happened Tony Ayoub was always confident that in two to three weeks he could've recovered.

"He's working hard to get back and trains like everyday is his last, which helps him become the player he is.

"It's a matter of being able to handle the little bit of pain that is there."

The news comes after Newcastle this week lost local juniors Brock Lamb (knee) and Luke Yates (ankle) for the remainder of the season.

Young half Jack Cogger is set to replace Lamb in the halves and make his first appearance for 2017 after a long layoff at the start of the season.

Cogger underwent pelvic surgery in March and missed over three months of football. 

"Jack's been back for five weeks in reserve grade and if he didn't have that huge chunk at the start of the year, he would've played a few games [in the NRL]," Brown said. 

"He played some games last year and made a good account of himself and I think he's a better player and the team is a better team now.

"We would have given Jack a game [before the year was out] anyway, he's physically better and there is parts of his game he's improved."

Brown admitted it was a sad way to end the season for Lamb, who was on track to challenge Raiders winger Nick Cotric for the Dally M Rookie of the Year award. 

Cogger will use the final fortnight to showcase his talent with new recruit Connor Watson set to join the club next season.

With current halfback Trent Hodkinson under contract for next season, the options available in the halves will leave Brown with a selection dilemma in 2018.

"[Brock's injury] is not a major one so he can rest up and come back in pre-season and work on parts of his game," Brown said.

"[Lamb and Cogger] came through [the grades] together and how they develop will play a part in [the selection process].

"How these things evolve I suppose form, injury and development will play a part in all of it."

There is no tougher ask for Cogger with two games remaining 

Cogger faces a tough task against the Raiders in Canberra this week before the Knights host reigning premiers Cronulla in the club's final home game. 

The 20-year-old made his NRL debut against the Sharks last season in a 62-0 thrashing at home.

Brown believes with the Raiders still a slight mathematical chance of featuring in the finals they will come out all guns blazing.

"While it appears they're out, there are a couple of sides above them that are hit with injuries and not going quite well," he said.

"Canberra will still look at it like they're a mathematical chance and their for-and-against is better than a few of those sides.

"Obviously if they won on the weekend they would have definitely been on their way.

"Their last five weeks of footy they've made positional changes and it's worked well for them."

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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