Essendon have suffered a blow ahead of their AFL Anzac Day blockbuster against Collingwood, with Brendon Goddard to miss another week.
Goddard has failed to come up from the groin injury suffered early in the round-four loss to Fremantle.
Ruckman Tom Bellchambers is also at least another week away as he comes back from pre-season ankle surgery.
But speedy defender Courtenay Dempsey could be a surprise inclusion for the MCG clash after his return from a club-imposed suspension last month.
“He (Goddard) just didn’t come up. In the end, he knows his own body and, if he didn’t feel like he could perform, then you know deep down,” said Essendon captain Jobe Watson.
“Tom’s just not quite ready. He’s done a lot of work getting himself back and played really well for a half (in the VFL) but I think they’re willing to give him another week in the VFL.
“Courtenay offers us some unique skills that he has.
“The way that he’s handled himself the last month, the way that he looks, physically the way he’s looked after himself, I think talking to him that he’s enjoyed the experience.”
Collingwood captain Scott Pendlebury says regardless of Essendon’s personnel, the occasion ensures the Bombers will be a tough opponent.
“Anytime a quality player like ‘BJ’ (Goddard) is out of the side, it’s always nice, but they’re still going to be up and about tomorrow and we expect a fierce contest,” Pendlebury said.
“That’s the beauty of Anzac Day. In the past, if we’d been five and zip or they’d been nought and five, or the other way around, this game has always been huge.
“It doesn’t matter what’s happened in previous rounds – it’s on from the first bounce tomorrow.”
Anzac Day will attract a crowd of around 90,000 and it has become the biggest home-and-away match of the season.