Essendon veteran Mathew Stokes faces an extended AFL break because of his hamstring injury.
Scans on Monday showed the two-time Geelong premiership player will be out of action for at least three weeks.
Stokes is among 10 Essendon recruits brought in this year to cover for their doping suspensions.
The half-forward had been one of their most consistent players in the opening six weeks of the season.
Stokes felt tightness during Sunday’s scrappy loss to Carlton, which left the makeshift Bombers languishing at second-last with a 1-5 record.
But the Bombers should regain vice-captain Mark Baguley and midfielder Craig Bird for Saturday’s match against Sydney at the MCG.
Baguley was a late withdrawal from the Carlton game because of soreness and Bird also missed Sunday’s game with a quad muscle injury.
The Bombers have also reported that last November’s No.6 draft pick Aaron Francis is making strong progress in his recovery from a calf injury.
While No.5 selection Darcy Parish has made an encouraging AFL debut, Francis is yet to play senior football.