RICHMOND could be without its big four for first time in almost 10 years when it faces Port Adelaide in its twilight clash at Adelaide Oval on Saturday.
Already desperately missing their joint vice-captains in key defender Alex Rance (knee) and spearhead Jack Riewoldt (wrist), the Tigers might also be forced to cope without superstar Dustin Martin and captain Trent Cotchin, who are in danger of being sidelined through suspension and injury respectively.
Since Martin made his AFL debut in 2010, at least two of them have taken the field.
Tigers coach Damien Hardwick has never been without his entire awesome foursome, which has collectively missed just 23 games over the past eight completed seasons.
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Underlining what they mean to the yellow-and-black cause, this quality quartet has also won eight of the Tigers' past nine best and fairest awards, while Riewoldt has led the club's goalkicking for the past nine seasons.
The likely loss of both Martin and Cotchin would severely hamper 1-2 Richmond's chances of winning the midfield battle against the 2-1 Power.
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Cotchin felt for his left hamstring just seconds into the last quarter, before leaving the field for the remainder of the contest, but Martin has grabbed most of the headlines.
A frustrated Martin lashed out during the Tigers' loss to Greater Western Sydney, elbowing Adam Kennedy to the head in the centre of Giants Stadium, some 80 metres from where the Tigers were about to kick in from fullback.
A suspension would rule the brilliant midfielder ineligible to win a second Brownlow Medal this year.
Martin is also likely to come under scrutiny from Match Review Officer Michael Christian for a middle-finger gesture and an apparent drug-related gesture and sledge – acts that could be punished with fines.
Dustin Martin stuck up the middle finger towards a Giants player. pic.twitter.com/LySIkzQWo0— AFL.com.au (@AFLcomau) April 6, 2019
The Tigers will also be worried about another elbow – the right one that defender Jayden Short dislocated – while forward Daniel Rioli has sore ribs after a huge collision.
Dan Rioli says he "needs to harden up" after heading for a scan following this big hit. Will be fine to play v Port.— Mitch Cleary (@cleary_mitch) April 8, 2019
And who might captain this week with the leadership group sidelined? "Maybe Higgo!" @AFLcomau
The Power also has its own issues, with on-baller Tom Rockliff being concussed against his old club Brisbane and champion playmaker Robbie Gray hurting a shoulder. However, Port's football chief Chris Davies expects the pair to take on Richmond.
Sydney will be at least two men down when they host Melbourne at the SCG on a five-day break on Thursday night after forward Will Hayward suffered a broken jaw and veteran Jarrad McVeigh looked like he'd been shot after damaging his right quad.
The winless Demons will sweat on the fitness of key forward Tom McDonald, who tweaked his left ankle in the second quarter of the loss to Essendon on Friday night but returned later in the term.
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Undefeated Geelong will be hoping to have Tim Kelly available for its huge home clash with a hot Greater Western Sydney after the gun midfielder's night was over when he left the field with a right ankle problem late in the win over Adelaide. Cats coach Chris Scott said later he could have returned if needed.
Cats teammate Mark O'Connor copped a corked hip and the Irishman appears to be in serious doubt.
Essendon will have to call in reinforcements for its clash with a rising Brisbane to replace young runner Kobe Mutch and tall forward Shaun McKernan, both of whom suffered serious hamstring injuries in the win over Melbourne.
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Fremantle's superstar skipper Nat Fyfe faces a battle to be passed fit for the derby against reigning premier West Coast after being knocked out in a clash of heads with St Kilda youngster Josh Battle.
Earlier, Saints defender Nathan Brown also copped a head knock.
In other injury news:
- Adelaide speedster Paul Seedsman escaped a dreaded knee reconstruction but has still sustained a significant injury, although a timeline is yet been established.
- Hawthorn veteran Jarryd Roughead was a late withdrawal for the clash with North Melbourne with a corked thigh. Teammates Jaeger O'Meara (hip) and Luke Breust (back) were also sore.
- Collingwood key backman Darcy Moore hurt an ankle and left the field for treatment but returned to play out the game against West Coast, while Pies on-baller Taylor Adams could come under attention for a late bump on Eagles star Luke Shuey.
- Bombers midfielder Devon Smith copped a head knock but passed a concussion test and returned to the field, while Dons defender Aaron Francis had various issues, including a possible hip problem early and a leg ailment late.
- Carlton boom recruit Mitch McGovern damaged a hamstring in the third quarter of the loss to Sydney and didn't return. Blues ruckman Andrew Phillips was a late withdrawal with a corked quad.
- Former Dockers runner Tom Sheridan injured a calf in the opening quarter of his first game for the Giants and played no further part.