ADELAIDE has not given up hope of a top-four finish despite a winless start to the year and an injury curse that today claimed three more key players.
All-Australian defender Nathan Bock, young gun Patrick Dangerfield and utility Trent Hentschel all are likely to miss large chunks of the season after being injured in Sunday’s loss to Melbourne.
Forward Kurt Tippett is also unlikely to recover from an ankle sprain for Saturday’s home fixture against Carlton, a game Adelaide enters with 14 of 40 players on its injured list.
Bock’s hamstring strain will force the creative defender out for about three matches, while a flare-up in Hentschel’s troublesome right knee will sideline him indefinitely.
Dangerfield remained in Melbourne today and had further scans on his neck after being sandwiched by three Demons players in a crunching tackle during the MCG match.
The 20-year-old was cleared of a neck fracture but his longer term prognosis remains uncertain.
Hentschel missed the entire 2007 and 2008 AFL seasons and needed four operations to repair his damaged right knee, and experienced swelling in the same joint after just 10 minutes of Sunday’s match.
The Crows hold hopes midfielder Nathan van Berlo (back) and defender Scott Stevens (concussion) will return against the Blues, and dashing backman Graham Johncock (broken thumb) is a chance for his first game this season.
“You have just got to move on,” Adelaide ruckman Ivan Maric said today.
“It’s just like anything in life I suppose, there is no point dwelling on things you can’t control.”
Adelaide is also hampered by lack of match fitness to players including Maric, Jason Porplyzia, Chris Knights and Brett Burton – who all missed most of the pre-season.
Despite the winless start and 15th place on the ladder, Maric said the Crows’ stated aim of a top-four finish was not impossible.
“We are not going to believe that, this group has got a lot of belief in ourselves and our game style and how good we can be and that is what we are going to focus on,” he said.
Crows coach Neil Craig said he wouldn’t hit the panic button.
“We’ve got our backs to the wall, no doubt about that, but we’re still alive,” Craig said.
“It’s (just) three games in, so we continue to push on very aggressively. Obviously we need to find some players next week who can cover for Bock and possibly some of the other guys, but nothing changes.
“If we can play with that sort of spirit and intensity that we played with today – and that’s what our supporters have been waiting for for two weeks – we’re still a chance.
“I thought it was great credit for our players to be able to, one, produce that sort of spirit and intensity at the start of the game, and more importantly, to be able to maintain it when things were totally against them. That’s why we continue to push on.”
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