BFNL finals hopeful Eaglehawk is bracing itself for a demanding three weeks without multiple key players.
The Hawks are clinging to their place inside the top five and face the undefeated Gisborne (home), second-placed Strathfieldsaye (home) and the team eyeing off their spot in the top five, South Bendigo (away), in the next three games leading into the general bye.
An understrength Eaglehawk snuck over the line against Castlemaine on Saturday by the narrowest of margins and coach Travis Matheson confirmed the Hawks were unlikely to get many players back for this week's clash with Gisborne.
Ruckman Clayton Holmes (shoulder), midfielder Charlie Langford (broken hand), forward/midfielder Lewin Davis (hamstring) and centre half-forward Shaun Knott (calf) were all injured in the game the previous week against Kyneton, while defenders Kobe Lloyd (hamstring) and Dylan Hanley (hamstring) are two weeks into their rehabilitation.
"If it comes down to a 50-50 decision then we won't be taking any risks,'' Matheson said of the prospect of those players returning this week.
"Kobe and Dylan have extensive history with hamstring injuries, so we want to make sure they're 100 per cent right.
"Clayton will need to go under the knife at the end of the year, but it's one of those shoulder injuries that he can play with.
"We'll give him every opportunity to rehab it to the extent he's been advised to before he plays again.
"We'd love to have some of these guys back (for the Gisborne game), but we have to think about the long term."
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To make matters worse, key midfielder Noah Wheeler pulled up with a sore hamstring from the win over Castlemaine and is also in doubt to play Gisborne.
"We'll have to wait and see later in the week,'' Matheson said of Wheeler.
"Like the other guys, if there's some doubt we won't risk him.
"It would have been good to give him the week off (against Castlemaine), but we just couldn't afford to do it."
The run of bad luck leaves the Hawks' with the bare bones in terms of numbers, but Matheson said the Hawks wouldn't use it as an excuse.
"It would be delusional to think at some point of the year you won't get a bad run with COVID and/or injuries,'' Matheson said.
"We're going through it now and we will resist the temptation to rush players back even though our next month is pretty challenging."
The silver lining to the Borough injury cloud is the opportunity to blood some new faces in the senior side.
"The positive is we've had six or seven guys make their senior debut this year,'' Matheson said.
"We had a few 17 and 18-year-olds make their debut (against Castlemaine) and they gave us a bit.
"Matty Noden kicked a couple of goals, Mitch Ronchieri and Izak O'Sullivan both did enough at senior level to show they have what it takes.
"With the injuries we have we'll continue to give the young guys a go."
Meanwhile, Gisborne will be without forward Ethan Foreman for its trip to Canterbury Park.
Foreman injured his hamstring in the final quarter of the win over Golden Square.
It was his first game back from injury and he's now unlikely to play again until after the general bye.
Key forward Jack Scanlon (shoulder) will also miss the game against Eaglehawk.
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