EXPLOSIVE star Jake Stringer will miss a second straight match in a blow for Essendon as it looks to build on its first win of the season against Fremantle.
Tom Cutler is set to return after being sidelined through health and safety protocols and young gun Nik Cox is available after two weeks out with an ankle injury.
But Stringer's ongoing absence is a setback to the Bombers' (1-3) chances of toppling the Dockers (3-1) at Marvel Stadium on Sunday.
"He's just got a bit of a hamstring so he won't be available this week," Essendon coach Ben Rutten said of Stringer, 28, who also missed round one with a groin injury.
"We'll just keep building him up and make sure we set him up for the rest of the season.
"We're concerned because he's not available but I don't think it's a long-term issue for us."
MEDICAL ROOM Check out the full injury list
The Bombers will take a conservative approach to Will Snelling's calf injury after he suffered a reoccurrence in the win over the Crows.
That clash was Snelling's first game back from a similar injury sustained in pre-season.
James Stewart will also miss the next several weeks after injuring his calf last week.
Rutten was full of praise for Devon Smith after his one-goal, 12-disposal cameo as a substitute helped lift the Bombers to a tense four-point win over Adelaide.
Smith, the Bombers' 2018 best and fairest winner, was dropped from the best 22 after a quiet game against Brisbane in round two and was an unused sub in round three.
"He shifted the intensity around the ball," Rutten said.
"We know Dev can bring that and it was a really good second half from him.
"He made a real difference and had a big impact on the game."
Essendon has beaten Fremantle in each of their last five clashes at Marvel Stadium, but the Dockers sit in the top-four after outlasting GWS last week.
"They've played some really good footy and shown some real improvement areas in their game ... even if it's only after the first four rounds," Rutten said.
"We see them as a real threat.
"They've got some really good depth through their midfield, they're really dynamic up forward and they've got some speed and pace at ground level."