It is touch and go whether powerhouse prop Alex Walmsley will be available for Saints' remaining fixtures as they set their sights on Grand Final glory after the disappointment of bowing out of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup against the Catalans Dragons just one hurdle from Wembley.
The 28-year-old England international hasn't played a competitive game since Saints faced Warrington Wolves at the Halliwell-Jones Stadium
in early March where he suffered a fractured bone in his neck which required immediate surgery.
Head coach Justin Holbrook had been keeping his fingers firmly crossed that following his latest scan, which the ex-Batley Bulldogs ace
underwent last week, the surgeon would be in a position to give him the green light to pull on the famous red vee jersey once more.
But the medical advice given to the club is that he still needs more regrowth on the injured bone before resuming his career and hopefully when he undergoes his next scan in a few weeks' time the results will be of a more positive nature.
Holbrook said yesterday (Monday): ''I was hoping to receive great news and able to get him back on the field sooner rather than later but
this won't happen now and we will have to see what decision is reached further down the line.
''I always felt he would be back this year but I'm not so sure now.'
"Walmsley has been great in training and doing everything asked of him but is still to be tested on how he will react to full physical contact and until the surgeon is confident he can overcome this hurdle, then his return to first team action is in the lap of the Gods.
''We are in the hands of the surgeon and also have to make sure he is 100 per cent ready when he returns. If he is to play
this year, it will be a bonus but as a club we are more concerned with his long-term future and what's best for the player.''
Walmsley signed a new four year contract earlier in the year and only a few weeks ago Wayne Bennett placed his faith in the prop forward by
including him in England's updated Elite Performance ahead of the three-match end of season Test series against New Zealand year.
Whether Walmsley will be fit by then it like his chances of a 2018 club comeback - something no one can answer at this moment in time.