GREATER Western Sydney is set to turn to banged-up big man Shane Mumford for Sunday's clash with Essendon, with fellow ruckman Matt Flynn expected to miss the rest of the season after surgery on a dislocated shoulder.
Coach Leon Cameron confirmed the Giants could recall 35-year-old Mumford despite him still suffering from back soreness that kept him out of last week's Sydney Derby.
The club's ruck stocks have taken a huge hit over the past few weeks, with Kieren Briggs one of four Giants forced into 14 days of isolation just an hour before the derby.
On the plus side, the Giants will regain Lachie Whitfield from concussion although there's less certainty around the availability of Josh Kelly.
"Shane trained today and was pretty good, if he's right to play then we'll play him," Cameron told reporters on Thursday.
“But if he's not then we'll have to have some makeshift ruck duties using a [Jeremy] Finlayson, [Zach] Sproule, [Jake] Riccardi, that type to go in and combat their rucks in [Sam] Draper and [Peter] Wright. Shane got through training but he's not perfect.
"It's extremely unlucky for 'Briggsy' but a number of people have gone through just being in that wrong spot at the wrong time. We'd love to have him playing this weekend."
Ruck recruit Braydon Preuss is yet to play a competitive match since joining the Giants in last year's Continental Tyres AFL Trade Period due to shoulder and pectoral injuries and won't be available for another four to six weeks.
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As well as the possibility of taking on the Bombers without a recognised ruckman, the Giants will have a reduced squad to choose from with as many as 18 players unavailable for selection this week.
This includes Briggs, Toby Greene, Matt de Boer and Jake Stein who have been forced to isolate for 14 days, and Bobby Hill who returned to Sydney on Monday to be with his pregnant partner.
The Giants expect Whitfield to be available but are less confident that in-form midfielder Kelly will be fit to play after rolling his right ankle against the Swans and being subbed out of the match. Scans showed that Kelly hasn't suffered any significant damage but he is yet to prove his fitness this week.
Flynn was also injured in the same game, dislocating his shoulder in the third quarter. The 23-year-old was strapped and returned to the field before it dislocated again and wasn't able to play out the game.
"Lachie has trained really, really well. He's passed every test that he has to pass in that 12-day protocol testing regime. He's trained really well today, did full contact and we'll tick off the captain's run on Saturday and expect him to play," Cameron said.
"Josh ran today but he'll still be touch and go, we'll be smart about that. It's a huge game for us and the Bombers but we've got to make good decisions about players that are coming back from injury.
"It was good progress today but he's probably still got to do a main session either tomorrow or Saturday."
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Despite his team missing several key players, Cameron believes the League is right to continue playing matches rather than pausing the competition for a week or bringing forward the round 23 bye to allow clubs to reset and have more players available.
"We're very, very keen to push on. It was an unusual build-up [to the Sydney Derby] on Sunday night. But the game got played and it was a pretty high standard game," Cameron said.
"There is nothing in the prep that is holding us back or is costing us or says there needs to be a pause in the season."