Adam Reynolds could be back for South Sydney as soon as Friday after fears a fractured fibula had dashed his chances of an Origin recall were put to bed.
X-rays and CT scans on Sunday morning cleared Reynolds of any break in his left leg after he went down against Wests Tigers on Saturday night.
The in-form No.7 is still expected to be passed over when NSW name their Origin I side on Sunday night, with incumbent Nathan Cleary set to retain his spot at halfback for the Blues.
After initial fears of up to two months on the sidelines if scans revealed a fracture, at least a week’s rest would seem likely for Reynolds.
But NRL.com has been told the star half could be back as soon as Friday’s clash with Parramatta, pending how he recovers from what has been diagnosed as a bad cork to his shin.
“He’s got no fracture in that fibula which was the worst case scenario at the time,” Rabbitohs head of high performance Jarrod Wade said.
“It’s a really significant bruise, a cork to the lower leg so it’s a pain management issue.
“We just need to see how he goes with weight bearing and walking around, see how he goes with running but there’s no significant fracture.”
Reynolds has already jettisoned his crutches after his leg was caught awkwardly underneath teammate Mark Nicholls in a tackle on Corey Thompson, forcing him from the field on Saturday night.
Having Reynolds on deck against the Eels would be a huge boost for the depleted Rabbitohs.
With Cody Walker, Cameron Murray and Damien Cook all expected to be away on NSW Origin duty and Dane Gagai in Queensland camp, Souths’ mounting injury toll has them scrambling for 17 fit players.
While Reynolds will be monitored throughout the week, delays in Braidon Burns’ recovery from a hamstring tear mean he is unlikely to be available.
The retirement of Greg Inglis and further injuries to Alex Johnston, Adam Douehi and Kyle Turner, coupled with the absence of their Origin stars, brings a number of fringe Rabbitohs including Jacob Gagan, Billy Britain and Bailey Sironen into contention against the Eels.
"It is not going to be easy," Wayne Bennett said of filling his team sheet on Tuesday.
"We've lost a lot of players, we just have to keep digging a little bit deeper and find another player, and whoever we give the opportunity to will come up and get the job done.
"That's pretty much how our season's been."