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Storm star Hughes hopeful of return for Panthers prelim

Melbourne star Jahrome Hughes believes he will be right to return from a calf injury for the Storm's preliminary final clash with Penrith.

The halfback was forced to watch from the sidelines on Friday night as Melbourne pulled off a thrilling 18-13 semi-final win over the Sydney Roosters.

Utility Tyran Wishart filled in admirably for Hughes at No.7, scoring the first try of the game to get the Storm firing following a 26-0 smashing in Brisbane seven days earlier.

But to have any chance of upsetting the Panthers at Accor Stadium, Melbourne will need Hughes out there this Friday night.

"I'm tracking really well," Hughes said on Monday.

"I don't need to really rush anything, just give myself enough time to get it right."

Hughes admitted watching the nailbiter against the Roosters from the sidelines was tough.

But the 28-year-old said he won't sacrifice personal gain over the team's performance.

"I probably gave the physio a bit of a headache last week because I told him I was all sweet but he obviously didn't think so," Hughes said.

"The thing that I don't want to do is go out there underdone.

"If I don't get through the game, it puts my team under pressure so I'll make sure I'm ready to go before going out there.

"I didn't train much at all last week.

"This week I started really well, had a little trot (on Sunday) and hopefully get into training (Tuesday)."

Winger Xavier Coates (ankle) also missed the match against the Roosters but is considered more unlikely than Hughes to face the Panthers.

The clash with Penrith is a rematch of their epic preliminary final encounter in 2021, when the Panthers defeated the Storm, who were minor premiers that season.

In 2020, Melbourne outlasted Penrith to win the grand final in legendary hooker Cameron Smith's final game.

Penrith will start as overwhelming favourites this time around as they try to become the first team since Parramatta in 1981-83 to win three-straight premierships.