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Newcastle Herald
Newcastle Herald
Max McKinney

Fitzgibbon, Young set to return from injuries against Cowboys

BACK ON DECK: Lachlan Fitzgibbon at training on Tuesday. The Knights back-rower has not played since round two. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Back-rower Lachlan Fitzgibbon and British flyer Dom Young are likely to provide a much-needed boost to the injury-hit Newcastle Knights after being named to take on North Queensland.

The duo are among a host of changes the Knights have made for Saturday's game in Townsville.

Coach Adam O'Brien has dumped five-eighth Jake Clifford and left out halfback Adam Clune, who has struggled in recent weeks with a knee problem.

In their place, O'Brien named Phoenix Crossland to play halfback alongside Tex Hoy at five-eighth.

Crossland, who is traditionally a half, has played a utility role off the bench in all but one game this year.

Hoy has played two games at fullback and one off the bench this season but looks set to start his first game in the halves at NRL level.

Forwards Brodie Jones (arm) and Sauaso Sue (concussion) were both left out with Fitzgibbon named to start his first game since suffering a knee injury against the Tigers in round two.

Winger Dom Young's return comes at the expense of Simi Sasagi and will be accommodated by Enari Tuala moving from wing to centre.

Pasami Saulo will make his first appearance of the year, named on the bench with Mat Croker who also returns from a broken jaw.

O'Brien, who joked early Tuesday he "might be dragging a few off the street to play", backed Young and Fitzgibbon to be right to go.

"The physios are working overtime to try and get a few guys up," he said.

"I'm confident that we will get Dom Young back.

"I'm reasonably confident of getting Lachy. We've still got a week to get through. It's not great at the moment, but we will get on with it."

Tyson Frizell is expected to take part despite missing training and playing with illness against the Storm.

"It was a bit more than a cold. He sounded awful and I didn't want to play him. I ruled him out Sunday morning and Tyson being Tyson, he demanded that he played," O'Brien said.

"I think he tried to empty the tank as best he could. He did empty the tank, I ended up taking him off.

"He is still pretty crook, he is at home bed-ridden at the moment."

O'Brien also revealed the cause of Kurt Mann's injury that is expected to keep the lock out for a few weeks.

"He stood on a player's boot running at pace and tore some ligaments fairly significantly on the outside of that ankle," O'Brien said.

"He will be some time."

Fitzgibbon said on Monday he "still had a few boxes to tick" but wouldn't play Saturday if he wasn't right.

"I wouldn't do that. I wouldn't put the team in jeopardy," he told Triple M Newcastle.

"I don't want to go out there under-done. It doesn't do anything for myself or the team.

"I'll do everything I can this week to get out in the next couple of weeks."

Knights squad vs Cowboys 

Starting side

1. Kalyn Ponga (C)

2. Edrick Lee

3. Enari Tuala

4. Bradman Best

5. Dominic Young

6. Tex Hoy

7. Phoenix Crossland

8. David Klemmer

9. Chris Randall

10. Daniel Saifiti

11. Tyson Frizell

12. Lachlan Fitzgibbon

13. Leo Thompson

Interchange bench

14. Jack Johns

15. Jacob Saifiti

16. Mathew Croker

17. Pasami Saulo

Extended squad

18. Simi Sasagi

19. Krystian Mapapalangi

20. Jaron Purcell

21. Brayden Musgrove

22. Dylan Phythian

23. Kobe Rugless

24. Ben Talty

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