MELBOURNE is sweating on the fitness of Max Gawn and Braydon Preuss as it faces the prospect of being without a specialist ruckman against the Western Bulldogs at Metricon Stadium on Saturday.
Gawn has missed the Demons' past two matches with a posterior cruciate ligament problem as well as a tear behind his shoulder, but the club's injury report now mentions only the knee injury.
Preuss stepped up to play his first senior game of the season in last Saturday's victory over Collingwood in the absence of Gawn and first-year big man Luke Jackson (hamstring), who could miss up to six more weeks.
However, Preuss left Wednesday's training session early after hurting his hip and underwent a scan.
Melbourne's high performance manager Darren Burgess remains confident the 206cm ex-Kangaroo will be available to take on the Bulldogs, but he will be monitored ahead of Saturday's game.
THE FULL INJURY LIST Who is racing the clock?
Gawn has also not been ruled out, but is no certainty to play, either.
If none of Gawn, Jackson or Preuss is ready to go, the Demons are likely to turn to some sort of combination between Tom McDonald, Adam Tomlinson and Sam Weideman.
The Dogs have their own injury concerns, with No.1 ruckman Tim English (ankle) in a race against time to be fit to play.