Rio gold medallist Emilee Cherry has taken a big stride towards her Sevens comeback but co-captain Shannon Parry is under an injury cloud for the second World Series leg.
Cherry had ankle surgery just after July’s Sevens World Cup and finally returned to running this week, with just under a month to run until the Dubai 7s.
Parry played through in the Colorado World Series opener but her prognosis has worsened since the team returned home.
The 29-year-old’s injury is still being fully assessed, with surgery looming as the worst-case scenario, but the issue has put her availability for Dubai into question.
Her possible absence adds to a horror injury toll for the women's Sevens side, who were missing gold medal trio Cherry, Emma Tonegato and Alicia Quirk in Colorado.
Tonegato is expected to be fit for the Sydney 7s in February, while Quirk’s return date is unclear as she works to return from a knee injury.
Cherry said it had been a slow process but she was making timely progress.
“It's been a fair while and counting since surgery,” she said.
“It's been pretty slow but it feels really good now so it feels good to be back running on it and running pain-free is nice again.”
Next week will be critical for Cherry’s comeback bid, likely to ultimately determine whether she is in the mix for the tournament.
“We're not ready to make a call at this stage yet, we've still got nearly a month to go so we'll see how these next few weeks," she said.
“Next week will be the telling sign to how we go if I get back for Dubai.”
Cherry said it had been difficult to watch the team from halfway across the world, especially with a disappointing finish in Colorado.
“It was very hard to be back here and see the girls,” she said.
“It was good to watch them on day one, I think they showed some really good signs and if they can bring that into Dubai they'll have a really strong tournament going into Dubai if they can take that energy and enthusiasm and that defence style into the first day of Dubai."
With their high-profile casualty ward, more responsibility has been laid on the shoulders of the side’s younger players and Cherry said they were showing signs of development.
“It's been really hard with myself, Quirky and Emma being in rehab for a fair while now, that's quite a big chunk of the leaders on the field so we've kind of had to see the other girls really step up,” he said.
“I think they're beginning to do that and I think Dubai will be a really telling sign for them, for the younger girls to really step up and put their hand up for those starting positions and to show Johnny (coach John Manenti) that they can step up to that next World Series level.
The Dubai 7s kicks off on November 30. The Sydney 7s kicks off on February 1 2019. Buy tickets here.