Things have gone from bad to worse for the Cowboys, as they could be without another two players for Magic Round next week after a thumping loss at the hands of the Cronulla Sharks on Thursday evening.

After leaving the field in the second half, Todd Payten will be hoping halfback Chad Townsend can be fully fit for next week. Townsend was seen on the bench and after the game with ice strapped to his calf.

Speaking post-match, Payten admitted that Townsend was taken off as a precaution and did not receive any major injuries.

“He had a couple of niggles coming into the game, and he had a fitness test yesterday and given that he wasn't moving well and complained about it, we got him off,” Payten said.

“Given it is a 10-day turnaround, we just made a smart decision around moving forward over the next week or two.”

Whilst Townsend will battle the clock to be fit for next week, youngster Tom Chester will not return. Chester is expected to be out for the remainder of the season after suffering a suspected ACL injury.

This was confirmed by Payten after the game.

“It looks like he has done his ACL, but we will wait for the results of scans,” he said.

Chester will be added to the Cowboys' growing injury list, including Jason Taumalolo, James Taumau, Heilum Luki and Griffin Neame.

The Cowboys are unlikely to replace Chester with another utility, paving the way for Riley Price to return to the bench for next week's magic round clash against the Sydney Roosters.

Should Townsend miss out, it's likely Tom Dearden will shift to halfback, with Ben Hampton joining the side in the halves, although he could yet play off the bench with Todd Payten's own version of mr Fix It Jake Granville moving to halfback or five-eighth.

The Cowboys can ill-afford injury issues, with the club winning just three of their first nine and sitting at the wrong end of the table as they attempt to back up last year's push to the preliminary finals.