Penrith set to feel pinch at back

Penrith face a serious backline shortage after Dylan Edwards was hurt in their dramatic 12-10 win over Melbourne.

Edwards was easily the Panthers’ best in the first half on Thursday before he suffered a suspected broken hand in a tackle, leaving him off the field and in doubt for the next month.

Penrith are already without Apisai Koroisau for at least another five weeks with a broken wrist, with Edwards’ injury now threatening their attacking structure.

But it is their shortage at the back that is the Panthers’ biggest concern.

Tyrone May filled in there in the second half, while Stephen Crichton would be the most obvious choice against Manly next Thursday.

But they are short in potential replacements for him at centre, with both Brent Naden and Robert Jennings suspended due to NSW Cup incidents.

“I thought Dylan was going really well too,” coach Ivan Cleary said.

“There are a few options there, we’ll try and put our heads together and come up with the right one.

“In a perfect world we’d keep May on the bench but one of the reasons he went there is because he understands every position on the field.

“Whether we keep going there, I’m not sure.”

Jaelman Salmon and rookie Izack Tago are some options available to Penrith, while Kurt Capewell could also move to the edge.

Another option would be to play Tyrone May at fullback or centre and move Matt Burton to the bench as the utility.

Burton again impressed filling in for Nathan Cleary, showing why Canterbury are so keen to bring him across early before the end of this year.

The 21-year-old’s torpedo kicks regularly got the Panthers out of trouble, while a one-on-one shot on Chris Lewis also forced an error at a crucial point.

“It’s a huge game for a kid to come into considering the amount of publicity that has been around him,” Ivan Cleary said.

“I thought he handled himself really well. He will learn a lot out of that game.

“You have a successful season with a whole squad. We are three rounds in and he has already played in a big game for us and done well.

“He’ll be a big part of what we do which I have said all along.”

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