The Western Bulldogs are paying a price for their barnstorming start to the AFL season, with Jason Johannisen looming as another long-term injury.
Ruck-forward Tom Boyd and defender Matt Suckling were also injured at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night as the Bulldogs had a regulation six-goal win over Carlton.
They have three wins from four games, but they have lost Johannisen’s outstanding early-season form thanks to a serious-looking hamstring injury.
It comes a week after captain Bob Murphy was sidelined for the season with a knee injury that needs a reconstruction.
Johannisen limped off in distress after he snapped a goal from outside 50m and he was on crutches after the match.
“It’s hard to know … it’s probably not going to be a two-weeker,” coach Luke Beveridge said.
“We’ll be conservative with him, he’s a valuable member of our group.
“We’ll play the longer game with him – however long he needs, he needs.
“But we’re not too sure whether it’s tendon or the belly (of the hamstring).”
Boyd sub-luxed his right shoulder, which was already strapped, while Suckling had to go to the dressing rooms when he rolled an ankle.
Suckling played out the match and earned praise from Beveridge for a strong performance.
“We couldn’t afford to lose another high defender,” the coach said, in reference to Murphy and Johannisen.
Scans will show how badly Johannisen, Suckling and Boyd are hurt, although Beveridge was hopeful on the latter two.
Adding to the injury toll, Josh Prudden will also need a knee reconstruction after he was hurt earlier on Saturday in the VFL.
“Someone ran over a black cat, unfortunately,” Beveridge said.
He was proud of the Bulldogs after the Carlton win, saying they did well under duress.
“We held our nerve enough, we just squandered some turnover opportunities,” he said.
The loss of Murphy and Johannisen is particularly worrying for the Bulldogs because they generate so much run from half-back.
“The boys we’ve lost … are first preference, in Murph and JJ,” Beveridge said.
“We’ll need our incumbents to pick up the speed and perform a really important role that we value in our team.”
Beveridge added Murphy would decide soon when he has the reconstruction.
He also said there was no hurry on the captain making the call on whether his AFL career continues beyond this season.