Penrith Panthers winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak won't undergo full surgery but will be sidelined for at least a month after suffering a fractured jaw in the win over the South Sydney Rabbitohs on Saturday night.
The speedy utility suffered the setback in Penrith's 18-14 win over the Rabbitohs but showed limited signs of the injury until pain several days later.
The 22-year-old Kiwi international had been named in the starting side to face the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs on Friday night but has since had a small stent inserted into his jaw in a minor procedure on Wednesday.
Among the candidates to replace him in the back line are bench utility Tyrone Peachey - who could start at centre, pushing Waqa Blake onto the wing - while rookie Christian Crichton, who has been named on the four-man reserves list is also in the mix.
Match: Bulldogs v Panthers
Round 3 -
Venue: ANZ Stadium
- LIVE PASS
Crichton trained on the right edge alongside Waqa Blake on Wednesday with Dean Whare and Josh Mansour remaining on the left side.
Watene-Zelezniak's injury is the third setback in as many days for the Panthers with confirmation Sam McKendry has ruptured his knee for a third consecutive season, while Tim Browne is recovering in hospital after undergoing bowel surgery.
"It's all unfortunate, we're not having a good time of it at the moment but that's footy sometimes," Panthers fullback Dylan Edwards told NRL.com.
"They were all unexpected injuries, we didn't realise the severity of them at the time until now."
The Panthers may also be without Edwards for Friday night's encounter with his partner Nadine due to give birth on Thursday.
Edwards told NRL.com he hadn't thought about missing the clash as yet but would if the baby arrived on game day.