Gagai, Clifford could return for Knights

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Dane Gagai could return from a fractured cheekbone less than 20 days after impact as Newcastle weigh up whether to recall playmaker Jake Clifford alongside him in Magic Round.

Gagai suffered a badly injured cheekbone just a fortnight ago in the Knights' loss to Parramatta, playing on for 37 minutes after being hit by friendly fire in a tackle.

The injury was expected to rule him out for close to a month, but he could now return just two-and-a-half weeks later as he fights to face Canterbury in Brisbane on Friday.

It comes as the desperately out-of-form Knights prepare to welcome back Tyson Frizell (illness) and Mitchell Barnett (suspension) against the Bulldogs, with Clifford also an option.

Coach Adam O'Brien insisted on Monday he did not feel any pressure around his job after seven straight losses, but there is no doubt the return of Gagai would be a significant inclusion.

"He's a chance for this week, he's here (on the Sunshine Coast) with us ... We will know more (Tuesday afternoon) once I talk to the doctors," O'Brien said.

"He is an extension of the coaching staff out there, the way he directs younger guys around him.

"Losing Kurt Mann and Tyson before the game against the Cowboys hurts as well.

"It's not just troops coming back, it's about 1000 games worth of experience coming back."

Newcastle are hoping to rediscover their mojo on the Sunshine Coast, spending this week in the same camp from which they won five of seven games last year to reach the finals.

They desperately need to rebound, after scoring just 62 points in the past seven weeks while conceding 230.

Five-eighth Clifford is among those in the camp, after he was made unavailable for selection for Saturday's loss to the Cowboys for personal reasons.

O'Brien said he was unsure if he would bring Clifford back against the Bulldogs, a choice dependent on the 24-year-old's mindset.

"I'm going to see how Cliff is over the next 24 or 48 hours," O'Brien said.

"If he needs another week we will go that way. I thought Tex (Hoy) did a pretty good job the other day."

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