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Key Tigers in fitness race to face Blues

Bachar Houli is in some doubt for Richmond's season opener - AFL,Richmond Tigers,Injuries,Dion Prestia,Bachar Houli
Bachar Houli is in some doubt for Richmond's season opener
Bachar had been training well. He just pulled up a little bit sore after the game against Essendon
Peter Burge

RICHMOND could be without four of its premiership-winning 22 when it hosts Carlton in Thursday night's season opener at the MCG.

Small forward Daniel Rioli (ankle) and versatile defender Nathan Broad (club suspension) have already been ruled out, while midfielder Dion Prestia is in doubt after a recurrence of a hamstring problem.

Grand Final hero Bachar Houli (calf) will also need to prove his fitness this week to take his place when the Tigers' premiership flag is unfurled.

"Dion had his ankle surgery pre-Christmas, resumed training with the group in January and then just had a little minor hamstring injury just before the (JLT Community) Series," Tigers performance manager Peter Burge told the club's website.

"So he's back training with the group now and we're just yet to determine whether he's ready to go next week or not.

"Bachar had been training well. He just pulled up a little bit sore after the game against Essendon in Wangaratta.

"But he was back with the group (last week) doing footy training and like Dion we're just going to determine over the next couple of days his availability for next week, but it's looking really positive."

Running defenders Jayden Short and Reece Conca are jockeying to replace Houli and Broad, while small forward Shai Bolton is expected to take Rioli's place in attack after an impressive pre-season.

Inside midfielder Anthony Miles is a frontrunner to replace Prestia if the premiership star is ruled out, while Sam Lloyd has trained in the midfield and has also mounted a strong selection case.

Richmond will open the 2018 AFL season when they unfurl their premiership flag before their clash with Carlton at the MCG on Thursday night.