STAR Essendon defender Michael Hurley could join his captain Dyson Heppell on the sidelines for the club's crunch clash with North Melbourne on Saturday at Marvel Stadium.
Hurley had scans for a hip issue and is no certainty to play, while Heppell experienced foot soreness that kept him out of the 10-point win over Sydney in round 16.
Essendon sits ninth, one spot ahead of North Melbourne, and could move to 9-7 with victory over the Roos.
Essendon might be without Dyson Heppell's drive for another week. Picture: AFL Photos
The absence of Hurley, 29, would be significant. He's ranked No.3 in the competition for average marks and No.4 for average rebound-50s.
Furthermore, his presence allows coach John Worsfold to swing Cale Hooker to the forward line when needed.
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"Michael has been managing his hips over a few years now. We just got a scan to check the current state of that hip joint," physical performance manager Justin Crow told essendonfc.com.au.
"He'll be monitored throughout this week, but we're hopeful that he'll be available come match day.”
Heppell has been a critical presence in the midfield, averaging 27 disposals.
North's onball division has been formidable in recent times, with Ben Cunnington and Jack Ziebell in impressive form and Jy Simpkin having racked up 18 of a possible 20 votes in the AFLCA Player of the Year Award over the past fortnight.
"Dyson has an unfused growth plate in his foot. He also has the same in his other side, which he eventually had pinned a few years ago," Crow said.
"From time to time, that gets sore. He was at the point at the end of last week where that soreness wasn't at the point where we were prepared to put him into a game.
"We've given him a bit of time in the moonboot to see how much that settles this week and we'll be testing him towards the end of this week to see whether or not he becomes available to play."
Youngster Kobe Mutch suffered a fractured kneecap in the VFL last Sunday against Coburg.
"Kobe got a knock to his kneecap, which meant he was unable to complete the game," Crow said.
"We had that scanned and he has a fracture in that kneecap, so unfortunately for Kobe he will need some time on the sidelines to get that better.
"We'll seek specialist advice on the best way forward. At this stage it looks unlikely to need surgery, but it will possibly mean an extended stint away from playing."
The midfielder is contracted for 2020 and has lined up in four career games.