ILLAWARRA guard Cedric Jackson will be given every chance to make it onto the floor for Thursday’s home clash with Melbourne, but a return against Perth on Sunday appears more likely.
The veteran nursed groin tightness heading into Friday’s game against Sydney, leaving the floor just minutes in and taking no further part in the match.
It puts him at long odds for Thursday’s showdown with United, the Hawks third clash with his former club in the opening five rounds.
The 2013 MVP took part in his side’s shoot-around on Monday but coach Rob Beveridge said he won’t put anything less than a fully fit Jackson on the floor on Thursday.
“We’ve had a pretty heavy schedule, he’s had some soreness and tightness,” Beveridge said.
“We’re trying to encourage him to get up the floor and play full-court pressure defence and he just tweaked his groin.
“We sent him out the back with the physio and he wanted to give it one more go but straight away he looked over and ‘no it’s no good’.
“At the end of the day he’s 32 years of age, it’s still early in the season and our schedule’s been really, really hectic.
“We don’t want to bring him back too soon and we won’t make the decision until later in the week whether he plays or not.”
The injury is an untimely one for the 32-year-old, who’s copped plenty of criticism from analysts over the opening rounds of the season.
He’s averaging eight points and four assists in six appearances in 24 minutes on the floor and looked to be re-finding his groove before the setback.
Skipper Kevin White, who looms as the likely replacement should Jackson be unavailable on Thursday, was quick to defend the three-time championship-winner.
“Cedric’s a winner and he’s a guy we brought into this program to lead us in the way he goes about his business,” White said.
“It’s been great to learn off him and sit back and watch the way he does things. He’s still finding his feet, he’s spent 18 months on the sideline playing pick-up basketball over in the States.
“He’s played a few competitions here and there but technically hasn’t played basketball for 18 months. He’s still finding his legs but he’s been great for us.”
With or without Jackson, White could still find himself in the starting unit, in the one or two spot, as Beveridge looks to arrest a trend of slow starts.
“Bevo and I talk pretty much every day and we’ve had that conversation,” White said.
“We’ve got to find a solution for the way we’re coming out in the first quarter, whether it’s changing the starting line-up or just the way we go about our preparation.
“Bevo I have spoken about possibly injecting me back into that starting line-up and just trying re-set the tempo. It doesn’t really bother me whether I come off the bench or start, I think I still have to play that role either way.
“We’ll see how Cedric’s groin pulls up the next few days and we’ll see what happens Thursday night.”