Parramatta coach Brad Arthur has confirmed star winger Blake Ferguson is unlikely to return next week, however Waqa Blake is set to make his club debut.
Ferguson was a notable omission from the Eels side that had their three-game winning streak snapped in a demoralising 36-24 loss to Manly on Sunday.
Ferguson remains in hospital after suffering an infection in his knee similar to the one that ruled him out of a game in April.
“He’s got an infection so I doubt he’ll play next week. He’s in hospital at the moment, just trying to get on top of that. He won’t play next week,” Arthur said.
But while the NSW State of Origin star is unlikely to be available, Blake will be a welcome inclusion as the Eels host the Warriors on Saturday.
It is understood Blake will start in the centres, however it is unclear whether Brad Takairangi or Josh Hoffman will make way.
Blake hasn’t played since sustaining his own knee injury playing for Penrith in late May, before making the switch to Parramatta a month later.
Rookie Ethan Parry is set to retain his spot on the wing after scoring a try with his second touch on debut in place of Ferguson.
However Arthur made it clear that not even a healthy Ferguson would have made a difference to the disturbing way their middle was opened up by the Sea Eagles.
“(Ferguson is) not going to make the tackles in the middle,” Arthur said.
Arthur said the Eels, who are only ahead of seventh-placed Penrith on percentages, had taken a step backwards at Lottoland.
In the first half alone, when Manly made their most damage, the Eels conceded 955 metres to 437, and missed a whopping 18 tackles to two.
“We got run over through the middle, everyone could see that. But it was why. Why did we have that attitude?” Arthur said.
“I think it might’ve been 55-60 minutes in before we started to get off the line and actually commit to our contact, which was not good enough.”
Veteran centre Michael Jennings is likely to return in two weeks.