Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley says his side’s depth is being sorely tested ahead of a must-win AFL clash with Richmond.
Port will line up at the MCG on Saturday night without stars Robbie Gray (hamstring) and Chad Wingard (concussion), as well as suspended key defender Jackson Trengove, while ruckman Matthew Lobbe and youngster Karl Amon have been dropped.
The forced changes add to Port’s troubles after heavy losses to Geelong, GWS and Adelaide had raised questions about the side’s unity.
Hinkley is banking on improvement from the likes of experienced duo Jared Polec and Jarman Impey, who return after losing their spots due to poor form.
“We’ve made five changes this week, albeit three of them have been forced on us,” Hinkley said on Friday.
“There’s a limit to what you can actually do and what trust you put in the people you’ve got in there.
“We’re hopeful (for) the boys who are not as inexperienced that we’re bringing back into the side this week … it gives them an opportunity to get their spot in the side.”
Port have also recalled Brendon Ah Chee and Nathan Krakouer, while young ruckman Dougal Howard will play his second senior game.
Hinkley said he hoped Lobbe would benefit from a chance to improve his work around the ground.
“He’s been competing reasonably well in the ruck,” Hinkley said.
“I’m sure he would say himself he would like to be doing a bit more.
“Sometimes, it just takes a circuit-breaker to take away a bit of the pressure, go back, relax, play a bit of football (and) get comfortable.”
Richmond have welcomed back Brett Deledio and Shaun Hampson in place of Alex Rance (suspended) and Jacob Townsend (omitted).
The Tigers are confident star forward Jack Riewoldt will play after recovering from a badly rolled ankle.
Both Hinkley and Richmond coach Damien Hardwick are under pressure after failing to live up to expectations so far this season.
“There’s no doubt both sides haven’t been playing near their best and both sides need to get a win tomorrow,” Hinkley said.
“I’m sure Damien and his team will be ready to go 100 miles an hour when the game starts tomorrow night as equally we will be.”