Parramatta captain Clint Gutherson is expecting Dylan Brown to be sidelined for potentially eight weeks in a crushing blow to the Eels' hopes of breaking a 34-year premiership drought.
Eels coach Brad Arthur has named Jai Field to partner Mitchell Moses in the halves for Sunday's clash against the Warriors after Brown lasted 55 minutes before leaving the field with a syndesmosis injury in round 16.
The 20-year-old underwent surgery last week with the club offering an "indefinite" response for a return-to-play-date.
However, Gutherson indicated the Eels were preparing to be without Brown until at least the finals series before declaring whoever fills the void must "come out and try to make it their own" as the Eels look to bounce back from an embarrassing 38-0 loss to Souths.
‘Embarrassing’ loss forces Eels to reassess
"Dyl's a big loss, he proved on the weekend how tough he is. He played majority on the weekend and made some big plays and covering tackles," Gutherson said.
"He's still young and you don't want to put his body through anything it shouldn't go through.
"He's got a long career ahead and whoever steps into that role is going to do a job for us.
They've got to come in and do a job with Dyl out for eight or so weeks, it's exciting for them and exciting for us.
"We've still got Mitch there to guide the team around."
Brown injures ankle in tackle
The setback to Brown, which was compounded by Parramatta's worst performance of the year against the Rabbitohs, has many experts starting to question their premiership credentials.
Scrappy wins over the Storm and Sharks plus a loss to the Dragons over the past month led to the Rabbitohs onslaught at Bankwest Stadium.
"It wasn't up to scratch, they put 38 points on us and against any team that's not what you want especially with how good our defence has been," Gutherson said.
"It's such an easy fix for us, we know what we need to do and had a look at ourselves after the weekend's performance.
"We're not looking into it too deeply, there's no one else that can fix it.
"We've got to come with the right attitude and start the game well. We let them off the hook too many times last week and played the footy they wanted to play.
"They torched us all game and it was embarrassing and disappointing."
The Eels received a boost earlier in the week with confirmation squad members Daniel Alvaro and George Jennings, who are on loan with the Warriors, won't line up opposite them for Sunday's clash.
Marata Niukore is also due back after a week's suspension.