A KNEE injury to star Bomber David Zaharakis has sent a scare through the Essendon camp.
Zaharakis went down clutching his right knee after falling awkwardly in a tackle laid by one of Essendon's potential VFL top-up players, Anthony Tipungwuti.
The midfielder was carted off the ground alongside club doctor Bruce Reid and went into the rooms to receive treatment.
But the Bombers later downplayed the injury, saying Zaharakis only sustained a minor tweak to his right knee.
Despite the injury looking serious, Essendon high performance football manager Neil Craig told AFL.com.au the star midfielder does not need scans and the expectation is that he will be fit to train on Monday.
"It's a training session, so you don't take any risks. There was a bit of a crash early in the first drill," Craig said.
"That happens every session. We don't take any risks at all. We don't expect there to be any issues out of it."
He was later seen with ice on his knee.
Youngster Will Hams was another casualty during an intense practice match on Friday morning, succumbing to an ankle injury.
Hams, who has dealt with his fair share of injury issues in the past, also left the track in a cart before gingerly hobbling towards the changerooms with medical staff.
Craig said the Bombers believe Hams' ankle injury was not as serious as it looked.
He later left the club on crutches.
"With those sorts of things you've got to wait a couple of days before things settle down a couple of days after (the incident)," Craig said.
"But at the moment the indication is that he's OK."
Nippy forward Travis Colyer was the clear standout in the practice match, where his speed and improved kicking were on show.
Jackson Merrett was prominent on a wing, Brendon Goddard's ball use was first rate, and former Crow Shaun McKernan's strength up forward was noticeable.
Jobe Watson, Jake Carlisle, David Myers, Michael Hurley and Adam Cooney were among the players not participating in the practice game.
The Bombers' 'top-up' players in former Saint Clint Jones, ex-Cat Mitch Brown and ex-Demon James Magner did not take part in the session, with Craig saying he expects the trio to join in training on Monday.
The other potential candidate – Coburg's Michael Hartley – failed his medical test and will not join the club for the NAB Challenge.
"We've just got to make sure all the correct procedures and protocols are ticked off first," Craig said.
"Those guys will train once we've got all the paperwork done. There's things like insurance, there's got to be some contractual paperwork done.
"We think those guys will hopefully start to train on Monday."
Dyson Heppell's younger brother Aaron, highly-rated VFL ruckman Sam Tagliabue, former Lion James Polkinghorne and Tipungwuti played in the practice match on Friday and Craig said all four were being considered as replacement players.
Craig said former Cat Jordan Schroder, who is on Essendon's VFL list, was also in the mix for a spot.
"They've all been identified, so they were all pretty excited," Craig said.
"They'll have a couple of weeks to impress at training to push their case to play in the NAB Challenge.
"It's a great opportunity for them. We appreciate what they're doing for our footy club.
"Our responsibility is to try to put out the most competitive side as we can against the AFL clubs. We owe that to the other teams in terms of their preparation."
Essendon plays its first NAB Challenge game against St Kilda at Morwell on March 7.