ADELAIDE will adopt a "risk-free" policy with Brad Crouch during the NAB Challenge after the luckless midfielder pulled up with general soreness from his starring role in Friday's intraclub match, coach Don Pyke says.
A foot stress fracture restricted Crouch from adding to his 25 senior games last season, with the 22-year-old managing just four SANFL appearances before the issue flared up again.
The Crows have high hopes for 2013's NAB AFL Rising Star runner-up to help cover the gaping chasm left by Patrick Dangerfield this year and Pyke said Crouch would be eased into the pre-season matches, starting against West Coast on Sunday in Unley.
"At this stage we don't want to take any risks with Brad. He's not sore in the foot, which is a good thing, it's just general soreness in terms of returning to play," Pyke told radio station 5AA.
"We'll see how he comes and we'll take a risk-free policy with him, because he was in good form last Friday and I think he's going to be a good player for us this year.
"(Soreness is) to be expected - he hasn't played for the best part of almost a year.
"He's a strong, fierce competitor and maybe he just went a bit overs on Friday. So we need to sometimes pull him back a little bit to protect him from himself at times."
Second-year forward Mitch McGovern was another to impress the senior coach after bagging four goals, while rookie Jonathon Beech also put his hand up for opportunities in the NAB Challenge.
Adelaide faces Fremantle in Mount Barker and Gold Coast at Metricon Stadium to round out its pre-season preparations before a round one rematch against North Melbourne.
Meanwhile, the Crows will soon announce their leadership group, with at least one change after Dangerfield's defection to Geelong, although Pyke confirmed Taylor Walker would remain as skipper.