Western Force will have to fight the Australian Rugby Union to keep rising star Luke Burton for the next two crucial Super Rugby matches after losing centre Kyle Godwin to injury.
Burton, the Wallabies under-20 vice-captain, was due to be in New South Wales this week preparing for next month's Junior World Cup, but with the Force injury toll mounting, the ARU has allowed him to train for Saturday night's clash with the Lions at nib Stadium.
However, under an agreement with the ARU, Burton, 20, should return to under-20 training before the game against the Crusaders in Christchurch the following Friday.
An ARU spokesman said they were still "in dialogue" with the Force about Burton, who made his Super Rugby debut against the Stormers.
Godwin's posterior cruciate ligament damage was caused in the final play against the Cheetahs when he was hit unnecessarily as he kicked the ball into touch to end the game.
It has put a big dent in the Force's finals hopes and put his international debut on hold for the second time in 10 months.
He was expected to be in the Wallabies squad for the three Tests against France next month after missing last year's spring tour to Europe with a shoulder reconstruction.
Force medical staff do not believe he needs an operation and hope he will be ready for the remaining three Super matches after the Test break.
A number of key backs, including Junior Rasolea, Luke Morahan and Alby Mathewson are injured. Dane Haylett-Petty, who has a groin strain, is being monitored.
Ben McCalman, the form Australian No.8 who is expected to be named in coach Ewen McKenzie's Wallabies squad, stressed the importance of a Force win against the Lions.
McCalman, who cut his forehead in South Africa, will be joined in the Wallabies squad by winger Nick Cummins.
It would be no surprise to see Matt Hodgson, Gus Cottrell, Adam Coleman, Sam Wykes and Nathan Charles all called up.
"You like to think with the success we've had this year we might see a few new faces from the Force," McCalman said.
"This week is a crucial part of our season.
"The importance of this week has certainly grown after the loss last week."