NORTH Melbourne is still unsure if reigning Syd Barker medallist Ben Cunnington will be able to shake his back complaint in time for Saturday night's game against the Western Bulldogs.
Coach Rhyce Shaw told captain Jack Ziebell (hamstring/ankle) on Thursday morning, after a physiotherapy appointment, that he would not be risked this weekend.
Robbie Tarrant (ribs) is fit to play but the day-to-day situation with Cunnington continues to confound the Kangaroos' medical staff.
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He was a late withdrawal the past two matches and North will again name him to play but Friday's training session will largely determine if the 29-year-old midfielder is right to go.
Shaw offered more detail about Cunnington's issue after Sunday's loss to Hawthorn, saying he was dealing with a "nerve impingement" that made it difficult for him to bend down.
"It's really difficult to explain but he's improving every day," Shaw said on Thursday.
"He did a bit yesterday and looked really good, and we want to give him a chance (to play), because he's a great player and one of our best players.
"We'll name him this week but there obviously is an asterisk around that."
One player who won't be considered for a senior call-up is defender Majak Daw, who returned from a pectoral muscle tear in a reserves practice match on Sunday.
Daw still hasn't been sighted at AFL level since round 23, 2018, with serious hip and pelvic injuries, a hamstring setback, illness and the pectoral issue combining to keep him sidelined.
"Maj has had a bit of a rough year or so and we want to make sure we give him the best chance to find some form," Shaw said.
"We thought he played some really good footy last week, after tearing his pec only three or four weeks previous, so he's done a fantastic job to get to the position he is."
In some positive injury news, Kayne Turner (foot) will play limited minutes in a scratch match on Saturday, while Nick Larkey (foot) and Luke Davies-Uniacke (groin) should do the same next week.
The Kangaroos were caught up in the frantic house swaps on Wednesday, with 12 players and four staff members living within the 10 'hotspot' postcodes identified for COVID-19 outbreaks.
Ziebell is one of them and has moved into an Airbnb with teammates Jy Simpkin, Mason Wood and Paul Ahern.
That's just part of the drama, with all 10 Victorian clubs preparing for news from AFL House on a likely relocation to an interstate quarantine hub next week to keep the season going.
The development provides another fascinating subplot to the year, given certain clubs, such as pre-season flag fancy West Coast, have struggled in the hub environment in Queensland.
"I think the mentality around going into such a situation is important and we will address that," Shaw said.
"The season is so compact … that every game is going to count even more so. If you fall behind, you've got a long way to catch up, so it's going to play a part.
"The way teams handle it is certainly going to give them an advantage if they handle it well."