A BATTERED Richmond will head into next Friday night's clash with ladder-leaders the Western Bulldogs without superstar Dustin Martin, who has been ruled out with concussion but has been nursing a foot injury.
Three-time premiership midfielder Kane Lambert will miss with a calf strain and Dylan Grimes hurt his ankle in Saturday night's defeat to Melbourne, while Dion Prestia won't be available after injuring his calf at training.
It leaves the Tigers counting the cost of their 34-point loss to the Demons in the annual Anzac Day eve clash, seeing the reigning back-to-back premiers drop three of their past four games.
Martin was kept to eight disposals in the clash in a hard-checking role by Melbourne defender Michael Hibberd before he left the game in the third quarter under concussion protocols. It means he will automatically be ruled out of next week's clash with the unbeaten Dogs.
But Richmond coach Damien Hardwick said post-game that it could help refresh the Tigers champion.
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"He'll obviously miss next week which is disappointing but it's the lay of the land at the moment and player health and well-being is the paramount of our medical staff and the AFL so we'll abide by that and he'll take his 12 days," Hardwick said.
"He has had some foot issues. They've not been significant but it has impacted him and last week was a little bit the same. In fairness, although he's going to miss some time, it might be the best thing for him. He's a proud man, he'd never put up his hand and complain, but the fact of the matter is he hasn't been his explosive self because of that. He'll get better."
Prestia had been nursing a hamstring strain but suffered the calf setback last week.
"He had a bit of calf tightness last week so just as we thought we were getting him back he's had that so how far that puts him back we're not too sure, but he won't play next week," he said.
Josh Caddy, Callum Coleman-Jones, Patrick Naish and Will Martyn will be in contention for returns next week against the Dogs.
Hardwick was disappointed in his side's performance, particularly its capacity to convert its inside-50 entries, handling of the damp conditions and ill-discipline which saw several goals conceded through free kicks.
"We'd love to be going better. We've played some tough competition, we've got some injuries, but we're going to move forward. You can sit there and look back and dwell or you can look at the future and see what it's got to offer," he said.
The future is looking as bright as ever at Melbourne in coach Simon Goodwin's tenure, with the Demons extending their unbeaten start to the season.
The Demons' bulging forward line again delivered against the Tigers, with Goodwin again set to resist the urge to bring in Sam Weideman and Ben Brown from the VFL with a settled line-up.
"While the team is performing well it makes it tough, but they're both playing outstanding footy and there will be a point where we look at the balance of our forwards," he said.
Melbourne is bound for a return to the finals and has shot itself into premiership contention with its opening to 2021 and next week is scheduled to face the winless North Melbourne however the match is clouded due to the unfolding COVID-19 outbreak in Perth.
Goodwin said his side was not getting carried away.
"I certainly wouldn't have thought we'd be sitting here like this but I think it's great for our members. The excitement levels I see there is brilliant. But we're six rounds into a 22-round season and hopefully there's a lot more to come," Goodwin said.
"Internally, we're happy. Externally, I'm sure our supporters are absolutely rapt. But we've got to keep our eye on what we're doing and continue to find ways to improve. We're still a very young side in a lot of areas of the ground so there's a lot of improvement to come yet."