Wounded Penrith Panthers remain confident
Penrith's stocks are running low as they grapple with an injury crisis but playmaker Jamie Soward says he has faith in the club's crop of promising youngsters.
Kiwi international Elijah Taylor (anterior cruciate ligament) has been ruled out for the rest of the season and the club is awaiting further scan results on Bryce Cartwright (ankle) and Brent Kite (pectoral).
All three were injured in the side's 22-16 win over Canterbury on Friday night.
The club is not expecting Cartwright to play again this season but is holding out hope of Kite returning to the paddock with both to see specialists over the next few days.
With skipper Peter Wallace (knee) sidelined for the rest of the year, the club has had to draw on its youth stocks.
Soward pointed to the likes of Cartwright, Isaah Yeo and Dallin Watene Zelezniak who have debuted this year and had no trouble adapting to first grade and said the side's campaign had not been derailed.
''You can't replace experience,'' he said.
''But with younger blokes coming through the team, we've seen with guys like Isaah Yeo and Dallin (Watene Zelezniak), when they got an opportunity they came up and performed.
''It's going to be a big challenge but that's first grade.''
Soward said the third-placed team was aiming to win four of its five matches - against St George-Illawarra, North Queensland, Melbourne, Manly and the Warriors - in the run home.
Sunday's clash with the Dragons will be Soward's first game back at WIN Stadium since departing the club last year.
He said he was treating the match like any other game and was most concerned with getting the two points.
''We need a win bad, we're on track to finish in the eight,'' he said.
''We probably need it just as bad as (the Dragons).''