A FOOT injury to in-form North Melbourne ruckman Tristan Xerri will open the door for new recruit Callum Coleman-Jones to return to the side for this week's important clash with Carlton.
Xerri, who has emerged as the Kangaroos' No.1 ruckman this season after a standout summer, had scans on a bone stress injury in his foot earlier this week that revealed a hot spot. Although there is no fracture, he is still likely to miss at least a month.
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It will mean Coleman-Jones will make his long-awaited return on Saturday night against a Carlton outfit also battling fitness issues in the ruck, with the ex-Richmond youngster set for just his second appearance for his new side.
Coleman-Jones was held to just four touches in his club debut as coach David Noble elected for a three-ruck set-up in round one, before being dropped to the VFL for the last five weeks.
However, the 22-year-old finished with 24 disposals, 37 hitouts, seven tackles and five marks in a VFL loss to Frankston last Sunday night and will now return to the side to partner veteran Todd Goldstein.
"All three rucks understand that there's pressure. 'CJ' is in good form and he's had a couple of really good games at VFL level so he's pressing pretty hard," Noble told reporters on Wednesday.
"We think 'Goldy' is going OK … he's an awkward forward to match up on, that's the methodology. He's also got great experience. We like the two rucks. I think there's enough pressure from 'CJ' as to what we'll do and what we'll consider this week."
The foot injury is a frustrating blow for the uncontracted Xerri, who had established himself as one of the side's best players in the first six weeks of this season after averaging 13.2 disposals, 22.5 hitouts and 3.3 clearances per game.
He's likely to miss at least four weeks with the injury, starting with Saturday's clash against a Carlton side that will be without its own first-choice ruckman in Marc Pittonet after he ruptured his PCL last weekend.