ADELAIDE coach Matthew Nicks is challenging four of his players to fill the leadership void of injured captain Rory Sloane.
Nicks says Sloane's future as skipper is assured after having successful knee reconstruction surgery on Wednesday.
And he's calling on his leadership group of Brodie Smith, Ben Keays, Reilly O'Brien and Tom Doedee to share the captaincy for the rest of the season.
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The 32-year-old Sloane, who is contracted for next year, suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during Adelaide's win against Richmond last weekend.
"He had probably been under a bit of pressure externally, not internally, about where his game is at," Nicks said of Sloane.
"But he stood up on the weekend, up to that point in the game he was one of our best on ground.
"He's our captain and will be going forward. It will be on-field where we will be challenged.
"There's four guys there who are outstanding leaders in their own right and they will work through the rest of the year and make sure we have that leadership on-field.
"It's being influential in key moments and leading that young group of players."
Adelaide travels to Ballarat to play the Western Bulldogs on Saturday with both clubs winners twice in five games.
Nicks is already mulling his replacement for Sloane, highlighting the cases of Jackson Hately, Riley Thilthorpe and Mitch Hinge for AFL recalls.
But the Crows coach won't be counselling ex-captain Taylor Walker for his comments after tangling with Richmond's Trent Cotchin.
Cotchin has accepted a $2000 fine for kicking Walker during their Adelaide Oval encounter.
"If the shoe was on the other foot I would have been missing the next month," Walker told Triple M radio, describing Cotchin's act as "deliberate".
Nicks said he "hadn't heard any of it, I hadn't read about it".
"I have obviously been briefed on it but it's not my focus," he said.
Nor is Nicks perturbed by the AFL's crackdown on umpire dissent which led to some controversial 50-metre penalties last round.
"We haven't had to revisit it, we are constantly visiting it," Nicks said of 50m penalty interpretations.
"We made some big errors in the Showdown, we nearly lost that game.
"We more than address that and will continue to look at it because it's an important part of the game ... I completely understand the rule, very comfortable with it."