TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 20: Josh McGuire of the Cowboys looks on during the round 18 NRL match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the South Sydney Rabbitohs at 1300SMILES Stadium on July 20, 2019 in Townsville, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

A number of Cowboys face uncertain futures as the club prepares for a cleanout of its squad.

It comes as Josh McGuire's move to the St George Illawarra Dragons is imminent, per multiple reports.

According to The Daily Telegraph, Jordan McLean, Coen Hess, Justin O’Neill, Scott Drinkwater, Ben Hampton, Corey Jensen and Jake Granville are playing for their careers at North Queensland.

DARWIN, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 10: Coen Hess of the Cowboys scores a try during the round 14 NRL match between the Parramatta Eels and the North Queensland Cowboys at TIO Stadium on June 10, 2017 in Darwin, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

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The Australian's Brent Read reports that McGuire could be at the Red V as early as next week.

“The Josh McGuire negotiations continue with the Dragons,” he said on Triple M on Saturday.

“The likelihood is that it will be finalised at some point, if not over the weekend, early next week.

“He won’t play this weekend, he’s actually got an infection I believe in his elbow and he would have been 50/50 to play anyway.

“I think they’ve just decided that he’s probably not going to be there next week, he hasn’t played a lot of footy lately, it’s best to persist without him this weekend.

“I expect that in the coming days there will be an announcement he will be moving to St. George-Illawarra.”

TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 08: Josh McGuire of the Cowboys looks dejected after losing the round 21 NRL match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Brisbane Broncos at 1300SMILES Stadium on August 08, 2019 in Townsville, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

Earlier reports that McGuire could be involved in a player swap will not facilitate, with the Cowboys and Dragons now trying to work through a financial arrangement that suits both clubs.

“The bigger issue there was money, because he’s (McGuire) on a big deal next year,” Read said.

“Basically the two parties had to agree on an amount the Cowboys would put in next season to make the deal palatable to St. George. That’s what they’re working on at the moment, finding an amount of money both sides can agree with.”

Coach Todd Payten and football-operations boss Micheal Luck are reportedly undertaking succession planning as the Cowboys prepare for 22 players to come off-contract over the next 18 months.

The Cowboys, who have not featured in finals for three-straight seasons, currently sit winless in 15th position on the ladder.

North Queensland Cowboys Scrimmage and Fan Day In Ayr
AYR, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 13: Cowboys coach Todd Payten looks on during a North Queensland Cowboys Scrimmage game against the Townsville Blackhawks at Rugby Park on February 13, 2021 in Ayr, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

Luck told The Daily Telegraph that the club is forensically analysing its squad and preparing for the future.

“I won‘t go into names but we have a responsibility to put together a good squad,” he said.
“We have some good young guys coming through and a few rookies coming through are potentially development-list players.

“Our job on top of that is to put an NRL roster together that can help our talented young guys.

“We need to do what this club is built for and that‘s to give young players from north Queensland a chance to play NRL, but we also need to be ultra competitive until those guys come though.

“We’re looking at our options at the moment.”

It comes as Michael Morgan's medical retirement creates a $1 million void in North Queensland's salary cap.

The Cowboys have already been linked to Rabbitoh Adam Reynolds, Panther Kurt Capewell and Bronco Tom Dearden.