Essendon is optimistic that Paddy Ryder will recover from a badly rolled ankle in time for Sunday night's game against Carlton, but the club may yet squeeze rookie-listed ruckman Fraser Thurlow onto its senior list.
The Bombers have a full senior list of 40 players and upgraded Patrick Ambrose from the rookie list ahead of round one as a replacement for Alex Browne, but have another short-term spot open for Tom Bellchambers.
Bellchambers was moved onto the long-term injury list on February 10, after ankle surgery, and must spend at least another two weeks there before he can play at any level again.
While scans over the weekend cleared Ryder of any major damage, club doctor Bruce Reid said a call could not be made until he attempted to train later in the week.
Without him, Essendon was forced to team Joe Daniher with Jake Carlisle in the ruck for the second half of the narrow loss to the Hawks.
“His scan from the weekend shows no major structural damage and no internal damage," Reid told the Essendon website.
“We hope we can get him up for Sunday but at this stage it is going to be close and with a nine-day break we will decide later in the week.”
The Bombers have Bellchambers, Nick Kommer (knee) and Will Hams (hip) on their current injury list, with the severity of Courtenay Dempsey's injured hamstring to be determined after it is scanned.
Dempsey, who missed much of the pre-season with a calf problem, was injured playing his second match back for Essendon's VFL side against Richmond on the weekend.
Should the Bombers decide to play Thurlow, the player they send to the long-term injury list to enable his elevation must remain there for a minimum eight weeks.
Jason Winderlich is edging closer to his first senior game for the season, playing three quarters of a VFL match on the weekend, while Jake Melksham is available to play against the Blues, having served a two-match suspension from the end of Essendon's 2013 season.
Carlton ruckman Matthew Kreuzer will train this week in an attempt to take on the Bombers but a decision on whether he plays will be based on how well he recovers from each session.
Kreuzer ran on an anti-gravity treadmill on the weekend, and on grass, wearing boots, without any problems on Monday. Should his troublesome foot not get through this week - or cause more issues next week, if he plays against the Bombers - the club will look at sending him for surgery that could tear 10 weeks from his season.
"So far so good. He ran today and did a bit of change of direction and jumping without any signs of discomfort, which is a good start," said Carlton football manager Andrew McKay.
"The plan first of all is to see how he pulls up from that, then he'll train Thursday and we'll see how recovers again.
"We just need to keep reassessing. If he gets up and plays this week, then pulls up sore again, we'll have to have a think about what we do. But the specialist is hopeful that after this program of rest he should be ready to train and play and not feel sore."
Meanwhile, Collingwood defender Nathan Brown will miss the next four or five games, but has avoided season-ending surgery on the shoulder he dislocated in Saturday night's match against Sydney.
The Pies have lost Ben Sinclair to a minor strain, and sent captain Scott Pendlebury for precautionary scans the ankle he rolled against the Swans.
"Scott got a knock to his lower leg on Saturday night which pushed his ankle over a little bit. The ankle seems OK but we're just wanting to get a scan, it's more more precautionary," said Collingwood's director of football Rodney Eade.
"We tend to scan all players with any minor knock or whatever the case may be just to give us some coverage on that. Scott's OK, he's fine, so we're more than confidence he'll play on Saturday."
Scans cleared North Melbourne midfielder Jack Ziebell of any structural damage to his right shoulder, while Geelong was awaiting the results of scans on Corey Enright's injured ankle.
Football manager Neil Balme said the defender was hopeful he had avoided significant damage. "He was feeling pretty positive about it before he went in, but he's obviously done something. We'll know more once we get a look at the scans," he said.