RICHMOND has ruled out premiership captain Trent Cotchin, key defender David Astbury and star midfielder Dion Prestia from Friday night's clash against Essendon.
The club is taking a safety-first approach with the trio, with Cotchin and Prestia both missing with hamstring soreness, and Astbury dealing with a sore Achilles.
They are all expected to miss just the one week and be available for selection for the round 23 match against Western Bulldogs.
Ryan Garthwaite, who has played just one game, is the most likely replacement for Astbury.
Coach Damien Hardwick told reporters Prestia would have played if required, but the club is taking a safety-first approach with the 25-year-old after hamstring, calf and rib injuries throughout the year.
"Dion won't play. He's got a little bit of hamstring soreness, so we'll take a really conservative approach with him," Hardwick said.
"He'll train, he obviously trained yesterday, but we won't push him and give him an easier week this week.
"At this stage (it's a one-week injury). Once again, we'll assess these things as we go along, but we're probably at the situation at the moment, coming into the pointy end that we'll take a conservative approach with those players that need it, and he's one of those guys at present."
With Kane Lambert (syndesmosis) also a confirmed out from the 22 that comfortably accounted for Gold Coast last week, the Tigers will be forced to make at least four changes.
Richmond had an extended squad of 27 at its captain's run, including Corey Ellis, Connor Menadue, Sam Lloyd, Jacob Townsend, Ryan Garthwaite, small forwards Liam Baker and Tyson Stengle.
Ellis, Menadue and Lloyd have traditionally been the players who throughout this year have come in to cover for injured midfielders.
Baker and Stengle could come into the picture if the Tigers decide to play usual small forwards Jack Higgins and Daniel Rioli up the ground.
Reece Conca, who rolled his "good ankle" in his comeback VFL match from a dislocated ankle last weekend, trained fully, as did the club's two ruckmen, Toby Nankervis and Ivan Soldo.
Hardwick said despite sitting a game clear on top of the ladder and having locked up a top-two position, the reigning premiers still had work to do ahead of finals.
"We've still got to settle on our best side. We've still got to get those players available and playing their best footy, so there's always something riding on (the remaining matches)," he said.
"Our guys are a very proud group, very process driven, so we take the scoreboard out of it, so to speak, so they'll come out and play their best footy.