NORTH Melbourne has a decision to make on Ben Brown's sidekick in attack, with Nick Larkey to miss at least this week's clash with Greater Western Sydney.
As AFL.com.au reported a fortnight ago, Larkey developed a "hot spot" in his left foot and the Kangaroos were treating the problem cautiously.
They have since chosen to rule out the 22-year-old, and club football boss Brady Rawlings offered no guarantee he would be ready to play next week.
North could turn to untried pair Tristan Xerri and Lachie Hosie or out-of-favour swingman Mason Wood, who started the pre-season trying to reinvent himself as a defender.
Xerri, who stands 201cm, was an impressive pre-season performer and, like Larkey, can play up forward and in the ruck.
Coach Rhyce Shaw may even opt to play Jack Ziebell as a stay-at-home forward, which he's excelled at previously, while Ben Cunnington kicked two match-winning goals in round one after switching into attack.
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"We've got a number of guys that have come back in pretty good nick and are looking to put their hand up," Shaw told reporters.
"It is disappointing about 'Souva' (Larkey) but he's doing everything he can to get back as quick as possible, so I'm really pleased with where he's at, considering the injury.
"But we've got a number of options we can go with and I'm really excited about that as well."
Larkey joins fellow senior regulars Majak Daw (pectoral strain), Kayne Turner (sesamoid bone in foot), Luke Davies-Uniacke (groin), Taylor Garner (hamstring) and Ed Vickers-Willis (turf toe) on the sidelines.
Daves-Uniacke is set to resume training with the main group this week after eight weeks of running without pain.
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Draftees Charlie Comben (back stress fracture and knee) and Flynn Perez (knee) are also on the comeback trail from injury.
However, both Rawlings and Shaw were comfortable with the lead-in time to the season resumption despite the Roos being among the hardest clubs hit with injury.
"We obviously had our players really well-conditioned over that break. It really wasn't a break for our players," Rawlings said.
"They had an intense training program throughout that period, so it's not like we were coming back and the players were starting from scratch.
"They were fully fit, we've had three weeks of full training with the group and we're really confident with the conditioning levels going into round two."
Shaw, as a "traditionalist", would have preferred games were played as typical four, 20-minute quarters rather than the abridged version of this year but said it may favour his "power" players.
The Giants will present a significant test of that theory in Sydney on Sunday.
"They've got a very strong list, they're well-coached, they've been together for a long time now and they're right in that (premiership) window, to put it in simple terms," Shaw said.
"But everyone's gettable and I just think it's great we get to go up there, play against a team that played in the Grand Final last year on their home deck, first up, off a break.
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"With the way our guys present and the way we're going to attack this, I'm really confident of having a good crack at it."
Robbie Tarrant and Jasper Pittard will both play their 150th career match on Saturday, with Shaw praising them as "fantastic young men" who were leaders at the club.
With increasing talk of crowds being able to attend matches this weekend, North Melbourne is negotiating with the AFL for the milestone players' families to be at the game.