Fears that Newcastle winger Shaun Kenny-Dowall may have fractured his cheekbone in last weekend’s loss to the Sydney Roosters were alleviated on Tuesday when he was cleared for Sunday’s clash against Melbourne Storm at McDonald Jones Stadium.
In a welcome boost amid all the doom and gloom surrounding the club’s crippling injury toll, scans ruled out a fracture after Kenny-Dowall’s face had “blown up like a balloon” following the game.
He was struggling to see out of one eye with a Knights insider claiming he looked like he had been in a boxing ring.
“He didn’t look too flash yesterday,”he said.
“One eye was virtually closed and he was pretty battered and bruised.”
Adding to the discomfort was a deep gash on his chin suffered in the opening minutes against the Roosters that was bandaged up before being stitched at halftime.
Not surprisingly, Kenny-Dowall did not train on Tuesday but after being cleared of serious damage, he was named in the squad for the Storm clash with coach Nathan Brown confident he will be right to play.
Brown made just one change to his 17-man squad beaten 18-16 by the Roosters with versatile Luke Yates handed a bench spot following the likely season-ending knee injury to co-captain Jamie Buhrer.
Buhrer was due to see a specialist on Tuesday with fears he had suffered a ruptured ACL but the club is still waiting for official confirmation.
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A number of players including hooker Slade Griffin, prop Herman Ese’ese and halfback Jack Cogger are all carrying niggling injuries and were unable to train but none are considered in any real doubt.
Griffin said the loss of Buhrer was a big blow to the squad.
“He is a great leader at our club. He does so much off the field that doesn’t get noticed to make us the club we are and everyone is pretty down about it all,” Griffin said.
Backrower Lachlan Fitzgibbon, who had his own health issues leading into the Roosters game with a boil on his face becoming infected, forcing him to go on a drip, said Sunday’s clash against the Storm would be another major test.
“They are always the benchmark in the competition,”he said.
“But we have got them at home and I’m sure all the boys will lift again.”
Melbourne, coming off a strong win over Brisbane, have been strengthened by the return of fullback Bill Slater from the hamstring injury that kept him out of Origin 1.
Centres Will Chambers and Curtis Scott also return from suspension.