ADELAIDE expects to know by Monday whether emerging star Brad Crouch will be available for round one after injuring his foot in Saturday's 24-point win over Port Adelaide at AAMI Stadium.
Crouch was the one of the competition's most impressive performers in the opening two NAB Challenge games, ranking second in the AFL for clearances (15), third for hard-ball gets (12) and tackles (12) and fourth in contested possessions (25).
The 21-year-old told Crows officials he felt pain in his left foot while changing direction in traffic in the opening term.
With no game scheduled next week, Crouch has 13 days to recover before the Crows' season opener against North Melbourne at Adelaide Oval.
Coach Phil Walsh didn't see the incident and didn't know how severe the injury was.
The form of several other emerging midfielders will ensure ample depth for Walsh to choose from if Crouch is unavailable to face the Kangaroos.
Cam Ellis-Yolmen has taken a huge step forward in his development this pre-season and was again one of the Crows' best against the Power, while Crouch's younger brother Matt starred in the first half of his SANFL trial game earlier on Saturday.
Ellis-Yolmen backed up a 23 possessions against Geelong with 27 against the Power and Matt Crouch had 14 touches and five clearances in a half in his first match since ankle surgery.
"I've been happy with Cam Ellis-Yolmen's three games, today I thought he kicked the ball when he needed to kick the ball whereas in the previous weeks he's tended to handball," Walsh said.
"He had a really strong pre-season, we've given him an opportunity to play through the midfield and right at this point in time he's ticked a lot of boxes.
"Without going back over the game he'd be challenging for a round one spot I would think."
Walsh was joined in the coaching box by former West Coast premiership coach John Worsfold; the two worked together at the Eagles for five years from 2009-13.
Worsfold accepted an invitation from Walsh to visit the club on Friday and then watch the game with the coaching group on Saturday – all for a bottle of wine.
"To have John come into the club for two days, watch us game day, he'll give us some great feedback.
"I want to be a better coach but I also want our coaching group to be a great coaching group as well and who better than John [to offer advice] – his record speaks for itself.
"It cost me a bottle of Hill of Grace but I think it was well spent."
Despite Port losing the match, coach Ken Hinkley was thrilled with the performance of forward John Butcher.
Butcher has struggled badly with his kicking since exploding onto the AFL stage in late 2011, but his five-goal haul against the Crows suggested a renewed confidence in front of goal.
"John can play, I think there's no doubt about that," Hinkley said.
"Today was really positive for him, there's lots of things still to happen but John's pre-season – I said right from the start – he's now done 90 per cent of the pre-season.
"He now looks a player who's ready to compete."