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Kieran Foran's expected early return from ankle surgery is set to leave Dean Pay with a welcome selection headache at the Bulldogs scrumbase.

Young halves Jack Cogger and Lachlan Lewis both played key roles in Canterbury's breakthrough 24-12 defeat of North Queensland, Pay particularly pleased with Cogger's kicking game in his side's first win in a month.

The blue and white sheds were also buoyed on Friday night by suggestions Foran's recovery from ankle surgery will have him back on the paddock well before his initial three-month forecast.

A 10-12 week lay-off from ankle syndesmosis was first thought to have Foran sidelined until at least round 13.

Harawira-Naera produces man of the match performance

But Pay confirmed Foran is on track for an early return, with some in the 28-year-old's camp touting a comeback by round 10 – three weeks earlier than first tipped.

"We're not too sure about Kieran," Pay said after downing the Cowboys.

"He's ahead of where he needs to be and he's just got such a positive mindset, he wants to get back and play footy so it's only a good thing for us, our team and our club."

Foran will march back into the Bulldogs lineup once fit enough to do so, but the continued improvement of Cogger will give Pay food for though about how to keep the rising playmaker somewhere in his 17 as well.

Knights junior Cogger finished with 409 kicking metres and a forced dropout against the Cowboys, his best effort since joining the Bulldogs over the off-season.

"It's nice to have [a selection headache]," Pay said.

Injured Bulldogs Dylan Napa and Kieran Foran.
Injured Bulldogs Dylan Napa and Kieran Foran. ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

"Really nice to have one. I thought Jack in particular was really good tonight. I thought over the last few games he's done his job.

"I'd say that. But tonight I thought he was better than that. He went to another level, especially with his kicking game. I thought his kicking was great tonight.

"He took the line on a couple of times so [he's got] a little bit more confidence each and every week that Jack gets.

"I think the players around him get more confidence as well so that's a massive bonus for our team."

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