John Bateman will meet a specialist in Sydney on Friday afternoon to determine whether the Canberra Raiders star can pull off an early return from a fractured eye socket.
Bateman is in the frame to return after less than one month on the sidelines having been named on the extended bench for Canberra's clash with Canterbury at ANZ Stadium on Saturday.
The English international arrived back at Raiders headquarters on Tuesday morning after a trip home and was promptly thrown into the squad a week earlier than he had anticipated.
He has answered the call for a depleted Raiders outfit missing seven of its best players in it's bid to snap a three-game skid.
It means the buy of the season could be poised for an early return as the Raiders call on a 20-year-old club debutant to help fill the void left by one of the world's best hookers.
The Raiders have been given salary cap dispensation to include Tom Starling in the No. 14 jersey to help cover the loss of Josh Hodgson.
Starling's inclusion means Raiders coach Ricky Stuart is unlikely to ask starting hooker Siliva Havili to put in an 80-minute shift in the absence of injured rake Josh Hodgson.
The Mounties No. 9 was signed as a development player this season but has been granted an exemption to join the top squad this weekend, having played one NRL game for the Newcastle Knights last year.
Aidan Sezer has earned a first grade recall in the absence of State of Origin-bound five-eighth Jack Wighton, while Seb Kris has been named at centre to cover the loss of Nick Cotric.
Corey Horsburgh has won his first start in the front-row in the absence of Josh Papalii in a major forwards reshuffle.
Joe Tapine will start in the back-row, Hudson Young has moved to lock, and Ryan Sutton has shifted back to the interchange bench alongside the recalled Emre Guler.
Raiders back-rower Elliott Whitehead says the next few weeks will define Canberra's season as they look to a batch of rookies to overcome a mounting injury toll and the loss of three representative stars.
"It's a great opportunity for the younger guys who are going to get their chance over the next couple of weeks to really show people they want that NRL career," Whitehead said.
"We need a big response, it starts this week against Canterbury. They're a tough side, and they always seem to turn up against us.
"We've shown it over the 11 rounds, what we are capable of. It doesn't matter who is in our squad, the structures are the same and as long as we bring them, I'm sure we can get the job done.
"It was a disappointing performance by us [last week], we just didn't turn up with the attitude we spoke about all week."
"The good thing about rugby league? We get a good chance to turn things around now. We've got a few players missing this week but hopefully we can do that."
Tapine's return to the starting side is a timely one for a side desperate to hold onto their place in the top eight without a handful of stars over the coming weeks.
"I always feel like, every time I play I try to give my all and that's not going to change," Tapine said.
"I haven't played much footy this year so I'm just trying to get that fitness back up. I'm looking forward to it, it's a good challenge for me.
"We want to show we are a tough team and we can back up when we've got key players out. It's going to be a big couple of weeks and the boys are up for the challenge."
NRL ROUND 12
Saturday: Canterbury Bulldogs v Canberra Raiders at ANZ Stadium, 7.35pm. TV: Live on Fox League.
Raiders squad: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, 2. Bailey Simonsson, 3. Jarrod Croker (C), 4. Sebastian Kris, 5. Michael Oldfield, 6. Aidan Sezer, 7. Sam Williams, 8. Corey Horsburgh, 9. Siliva Havili, 10. Dunamis Lui, 11. Joe Tapine, 12. Elliott Whitehead, 13. Hudson Young. Interchange: 14. Tom Starling, 15. Emre Guler, 16. Sia Soliola, 17. Ryan Sutton, 18. Ata Hingano, 19. Royce Hunt, 20. Andre Niko, 21. John Bateman