Adelaide coach Don Pyke says his midfielders are keen to atone after lowering their colours in a disappointing AFL loss to Geelong.
But they’ll have to do it without captain Taylor Walker, who has been ruled out of Sunday’s clash with Essendon with an ankle complaint.
Walker had scans but was cleared of serious damage after pulling up sore in the dying minutes at Simonds Stadium.
The key forward spent time in a moonboot and was held back from training at full strength with the Crows opting for a cautious approach ahead of the finals.
“That ankle has pulled up a bit sorer than we’d hoped so he won’t be available this week,” Pyke said on Thursday.
“We’re hoping it will only be a one-week thing.
“We’ll probably start running him later in the weekend and bring him up for next week.”
Key defender Daniel Talia and onballer Richard Douglas had trained strongly and were available to play after suffering corks, Pyke said.
With bottom-placed Essendon searching for their second win and the sixth-placed Crows firmly in contention for a home final, few are expecting Sunday’s game at Adelaide Oval to be a close one.
But Pyke said his industrious midfield had something to prove after falling uncharacteristically short against Geelong in contested possessions and tackles.
“The guys are pretty keen to atone for what was a performance which wasn’t like us last week,” he said.
“Our midfield overall on the night lowered their colours to Geelong but they’re a good quality midfield and our guys have been really good for a long period of time.
“I expect them to bounce back this week.”
Walker’s absence could present an opportunity for rookie key forward Harry Dear to make his AFL debut, with midfielder Cam Ellis-Yolmen and defender Jake Kelly also in the mix.
But Pyke said he was reluctant to test the side’s depth at such a critical point in the season.
“I think there’s a real risk in doing that,” Pyke said.
“If there’s clearly guys who are in need of a rest or who have got injuries they’re carrying, we’ll manage them accordingly but otherwise we’ll keep the team rolling.”