THERE'S no guarantee Jack Payne will be available for a Grand Final should Brisbane qualify, with Lions coach Chris Fagan saying he doesn't believe in selecting injured players in September.
Payne has been battling an ankle injury since the qualifying final victory over Port Adelaide and was left out of the Lions' preliminary final team to host Carlton at the Gabba on Saturday night.
Fagan said he wasn't taking any risks with such high stakes, describing veteran Darcy Gardiner as a "fantastic" replacement.
"He got better as the week went on and was a fair bit closer yesterday, but not close enough for me," Fagan said of Payne on Friday morning.
"I'm not a believer in playing injured guys in finals. I haven't ever really seen that work.
"And I don't think it helps the player when he's got to go out and play injured on the big stage. It's asking a lot."
Payne battled to get out of a jog during Brisbane's training session on Tuesday, and although he did more at the main session on Thursday, still came up short.
Fagan's response was simple when asked whether it was a one-week injury.
"I don't know. We'll have to wait and see," he said.
"If we're good enough to get through he'll have to jump through hoops to play because I'm just not going to play injured players in finals."
Gardiner comes in for just his third senior game this season after injuries cruelled much of his year.
However, the 28-year-old played six consecutive games in the VFL before being kept out as cover for Payne last weekend, with his best performance coming in the semi-final victory over Williamstown.
Gardiner is 4cm shorter than Payne, but Fagan doesn't see that as an issue against the tall Carlton forward line of Harry McKay, Charlie Curnow and Tom De Koning.
In fact, the coach said there was "no excuses" for Brisbane as it tries to qualify for its first Grand Final in 19 years.
"We've won three of our last four, so I'm not worried about our finals form," he said.
"You grow through your regrets and no doubt our players have regrets of making prelim finals and not being able to get to the next step.
"You learn through your disappointments."