ADELAIDE has ruled out injured midfielder Matt Crouch from returning to action for at least another month.
Crouch, the Crows' 2017 club champion, hasn't played a premiership game this season because of groin soreness.
The left-footer played in trial matches but was then ruled out by an injury linked to his off-season hip surgery.
Adelaide coach Matthew Nicks says Crouch faces another month to six weeks on the sidelines as medicos take a cautious approach with the prolific ball-winner.
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"There is a bit of groin soreness there, the last thing we need is to let that get worse," Nicks told reporters on Thursday.
"He's a player who plays inside stoppage, he is an inside bull. So he's going to be tested with change of direction, being wrenched and pulled around.
"We have been really conservative with Matty ... he is a super-important part of what we're doing – a big, experienced midfielder that we know we are going to need throughout this season."
The ongoing injury is complicating the future of Crouch as Adelaide and the ball-magnet's management attempt to negotiate a new deal.
Another experienced Crow, full-back Daniel Talia, had foot surgery earlier this week.
Talia, also yet to play this season, was on the verge of a comeback after off-season knee surgery when hit by the fresh ailment.
"He has done so much work on his knee ... he has been outstanding in his recovery so to have that news puts you on the back foot a little bit," Nicks said.
"We are probably talking conservatively 10 weeks – eight to 10.
"The operation was a minor one and, in the end, a really needed one because that was a sharp piece of bone really scratching on a tendon.
"So if we can now get him back and he can impact the second half of the season, that's going to be huge for us ... hopefully he gets another six or more rounds towards the end of the year to make an impact."
The Crows, with two victories from three games, meet winless North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium on Sunday with veteran forward Tom Lynch under an injury cloud.
Lynch, battling a toe injury, would be given until match-day to prove his fitness, Nicks said.
Another veteran, David Mackay, who missed the round three win over Gold Coast with hamstring tightness, will face a fitness test before the Crows take on North Melbourne this Sunday.
Recruit Mitch Hinge has been ruled out for the season after undergoing shoulder surgery but, in better news, first-round draftee Luke Pedlar is in line to play his first game for the club this weekend after overcoming an abdominal strain.
The No.11 draft pick from Glenelg last year was managed throughout his first AFL pre-season while also dealing with groin soreness.
Lachlan Gollant (finger) and Mitch Hinge (shoulder) both underwent successful surgery last week and are recovering before they start their rehabilitation.
Gollant is expected to complete an 8-10 week strength and conditioning block in the gym as he eyes a return to football in the second half of the season while Hinge will prepare for the 2022 season.
- with staff writers