A lingering knee issue has forced Ray Thompson to announce his NRL retirement.
But North Queensland coach Paul Green received some good news on Tuesday on the injury front after scan results for star duo Gavin Cooper and Antonio Winterstein.
Cowboys utility Thompson, 27, confirmed he would retire at the end of the year due to ongoing right knee problems that had limited him to six games in 2017.
Thompson was still hopeful of returning to the field this year for the sixth-placed Cowboys' NRL finals campaign and also made himself available for Papua New Guinea's 2017 Rugby League World Cup campaign.
Green also hoped to see Cooper (calf) and Winterstein (hamstring) back sooner rather than later after the duo went down in last round's 26-8 loss to Melbourne.
Ahead of Saturday's crunch clash at Penrith, Green said Queensland back-rower Cooper and flyer Winterstein might return in a fortnight.
"Best case scenario: a couple of weeks," Green said.
"The scans came back on the best side of what they could have been.
"It's unfortunate for us, given the timing of it and the games we've got ahead of us, but they will be doing everything they can to get back on the paddock and, fingers crossed, it will only be a couple of weeks."
Thompson, confirming he'll retire after this season, is also battling to get back on the field in 2017.
Thompson has played 111 NRL games since his 2009 debut with the Cowboys.
He announced he would join ex-Cowboy Matt Bowen in the NRL club's community support staff from November.
"I've battled through some injuries throughout my career so now was the right time to call curtains but, rest assured, I'll be giving it my all for the rest of the season," Thompson said.
"I have been through a lot with those guys.
"In one sense, you feel like you are letting them down (by retiring) but I know I have made the decision for the right reasons."
Playmaker Michael Morgan has been named captain for the Penrith clash.
"He's really embraced his added role this year, his added responsibility since JT (Johnathan Thurston) has been out," Green said.
"I think it's a natural step in his development; it's his natural progression.
"It'll be a bit of a team effort (leading without Thurston) but I think it will be good for him (Morgan)."