MELBOURNE skipper Max Gawn will continue to brave a torn muscle in his shoulder throughout the side's upcoming fixture cram, having played through the pain barrier to inspire a comfortable 51-point victory over Adelaide on Wednesday night.
DEVIL OFF DEMONS' BACK Full match coverage and stats
Gawn had been in some doubt for the trip to the Adelaide Oval, having suffered an unusual shoulder injury ahead of the club's crucial midweek clash with the Crows.
However, having been given the all-clear by medical staff, Gawn recovered from a slow start to again assert his influence over the contest with 11 disposals and 29 hitouts in the victory.
The club is now confident he will be able to again prove his fitness to meet Todd Goldstein and North Melbourne this Sunday, despite the prospect of a daunting four-day break.
ROUNDS 10-12 Check out the full fixture
"I did tear something in my upper shoulder region," Gawn told Fox Footy after the match.
"I had to be careful and get as much advice as possible. (High-performance manager) Darren Burgess called all over the world trying to find people who have had the injury.
"We came to a decision that I could probably play and I trained relatively well the day before the game, so I was able to get out there. It did take me a while … at times I thought, 'why did I put my hand up?' But I was able to get into it towards the end."
Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin labelled Gawn's display as an "unbelievable performance", but called upon the AFL to look after the star ruckman more often.
THE LADDER Where is your team sitting?
"To get up for this game … he was sore," Goodwin said.
"He's carrying a few little niggles, so it was unbelievable leadership to get himself going and to get himself up for this game in a really important game.
"We'll assess him and make sure he's right, but he gets a lot of attention. We continually speak to the various powers-that-be about the attention he gets … he clearly gets targeted, just getting to a stoppage. Hopefully he'll start to get some protection at some stage."
Adelaide coach Matthew Nicks said his youthful side, which featured nine changes from last Saturday, "ran out of gas" after conceding seven goals to one in the final quarter.
The Crows trailed by just five points at the main change, but couldn't capitalise in the second half as the club recorded its 13th successive defeat dating back more than a year.
However, with just seven games remaining this season, Nicks is confident of notching a win.
"We've been in a number of games where we've had our opportunities," Nicks said.
"I'd say there's been three or four games so far this season where we're well and truly in the game right up until three-quarter time.
"It does get tougher and tougher for the group. You talk about the mental side of the game, it can become hard for a group when we are losing the way we are.
"We just come back to what it is we live by, what our values are as a group … we didn't quite put them out there for four quarters tonight. Whether that was due to fatigue, whether we dropped away slightly, it can be such a small margin.
"We've got work to do on being stronger in those moments and being able to hang on, push through it and fight back."
Nicks said Will Hamill had been in good spirits at half-time after being concussed by an Alex Neal-Bullen tackle in the first term, but the club would be cautious with the young defender given he had suffered a head knock against Brisbane back in round four.