Carlton’s misfiring start to the AFL season has suffered another major setback, with star ruckman Matthew Kreuzer sidelined for at least three months.
Fierce rivals Essendon have their own drama ahead of Sunday’s blockbuster at the MCG – the Bombers have suspended defender Courtenay Dempsey from the senior side for not upholding team standards.
The Blues decided the only solution to Kreuzer’s ongoing foot injury was to put him in for more surgery.
He will be out of action for 12-14 weeks.
Kreuzer had a screw inserted to fix the original bone fracture at the end of last season and Carlton football director Andrew McKay said there is nothing they would have done differently.
He played in the round-one loss to Port Adelaide, but reported soreness in the foot and was rested for last week’s loss to Richmond.
“It wasn’t until the game against Port Adelaide, where he felt some discomfort,” McKay said.
Rather than let Kreuzer keep playing or rest him for 10 weeks, McKay said they decided to fix the problem through another operation.
Thursday’s training was D-Day for Kreuzer and he reported halfway through the session that the foot was sore.
“He’s a strong-headed young fella,” McKay told Fox Footy’s AFL 360.
“If he’s saying, on a pain scale of one to 10, it’s a three – others would be saying it’s a seven or eight.
“For him to say it’s a bit sore, it’s alarm bells for us to say well, that’s it.
“He’ll be tested, but he’s been through long-term injuries before and come through the other end.”
Carlton will recall Levi Casboult to boost their ruck options, but McKay said it was now up to Robbie Warnock.
“Rob has an opportunity now, hasn’t he? He knows he’s the man,” McKay said.
“He has to stand up now.”
Along with their 0-2 start, Carlton are also yet to regain star veteran Chris Judd from off-season Achilles tendon surgery.
Essendon are also thin on ruck options, with Tom Bellchambers injured and now Patrick Ryder out because of the rolled ankle he suffered last Friday night against Hawthorn.
The Bombers revealed a fresh problem on Thursday when they announced Dempsey would train with their VFL squad until further notice.
He hurt his hamstring last weekend while playing in the VFL as he returned from a pre-season calf problem.
Coach Mark Thompson said in a statement that Dempsey is an important player and they will support him.
“We felt that Courtenay needed to understand that we can’t accept individuals stepping outside of team protocols and requirements,” Thompson said.
“We sat down with Courtenay and discussed the reasons why his training standards had dropped, and as a result we agreed the best way forward for him was to go back and train with the VFL side.”