Daniel Wells’ omission with a calf injury is the latest blow this week for North Melbourne ahead of their big AFL match against Adelaide.
Wells and key forward Jarrad Waite did not fly to Adelaide on Wednesday with their teammates and the Kangaroos later confirmed they would not play.
North regained captain Andrew Swallow (concussion) and fellow frontline midfielder Ben Cunnington (quad), but Wells has been in outstanding form this season and is a significant loss.
Luke McDonald is the other omission for the Kangaroos after this week’s hamstring surgery.
Midfielder Brad Crouch returns for the Crows, who lost Paul Seedsman to a hamstring injury he suffered at training.
It has been a tumultuous few days for North, who narrowly lost a bruising match last Friday night to Hawthorn.
Wells and McDonald were hurt in that match.
Their absence adds to a worrying casualty list at Arden St, with McDonald joining Shaun Higgins (knee), Ben Jacobs (foot) and Sam Wright (ankle) as frontline players who have long-term injuries.
It is unclear how long Wells will be out of action.
North have also lost three of their past four matches, costing them top spot, and all the defeats have been against other top-four contenders.
The eighth-placed Crows are coming off the bye and four-straight wins.
Also, in his post-game conference on Friday night, coach Brad Scott scored a spectacular own-goal.
He sparked one of the week’s two major controversies when he accused the umpires of admitting to a pre-conceived bias against Lindsay Thomas.
It quickly emerged that the claim was wrong and, on Tuesday, the AFL hit Scott and North with fines totalling $80,000 after they had apologised for the epic blunder.
North chairman James Brayshaw has also had a bad week as one of the central figures in the Triple M controversy that has featured Eddie McGuire and Caroline Wilson.
Swallow was concussed in the round-12 loss to North Melbourne and said at Melbourne Airport on Tuesday that he would definitely play against the Crows.
“I was really close to playing last week and it felt good but we’re still learning about concussion and just thought I needed that week to get myself 100 per cent right,” he said.