Gallen returns, Dugan a chance for Sharks

Emma Kemp
Cronulla captain Paul Gallen is set to return from injury against Canterbury on Saturday

Cronulla captain Paul Gallen is a near-certainty to return against Canterbury as the resurgent Sharks eye a fifth-straight NRL win.

After a month on the sidelines with a grade-two medial ligament tear, Gallen trained well on Thursday night, and coach Shane Flanagan revealed his veteran warhorse "is on track" for Saturday's home clash.

In another boost, Josh Dugan is a chance to slot back into fullback provided his troublesome foot pulls up well on Friday, while Jayson Bukuya returns from illness to re-take his place in the back row.

But Flanagan said Luke Lewis (calf) and Wade Graham (hamstring) will have to wait another week.

"Luke Lewis is very close, Wade Graham is probably next week as well," he said.

"Duges trained well yesterday as well so he's a chance to play, we just need to see how we pulls up today. Those decisions will be made on Saturday.

"Jayson is over his illness which is pleasing. It knocked him around a fair bit - he was in hospital for probably 10 or 12 days. He's starting to put on a little bit of weight."

Should Dugan return ahead of schedule it would come at the expense of rookie Valentine Holmes, who's stepped in while the NSW star mended his broken foot and led the way in last weekend's courageous defeat of Canberra.

"Val did a really good job there the last couple of weeks ... he's slowly learning his trade," Flanagan said.

"It hasn't happened probably as quick as we thought it would, but if he keeps playing the way he did on the weekend it's going to be hard not to put him at fullback.

"But if Duges does play Duges will go back to fullback."

Andrew Fifita-inspired Cronulla have got their groove back this past month and are building momentum despite the key injuries.

The Sharks have played it safe with Gallen, unwilling to risk bringing the competition's oldest player back prematurely.

But barring a setback in the next 24 hours, the 36-year-old will join the Sharks' forward pack at Southern Cross Group Stadium.

"It's funny with Gal, the older he's got the more cautious he is," Flanagan said.

"When he was younger he'd just rip and tear and get back out there, but he trained well last night and I think he'll be fine."