Adelaide midfielder Matt Crouch has been axed again but coach Matthew Nicks denies the club champion's career is at the AFL crossroads.
Nicks says Crouch is "really disappointed" at being dumped for Sunday's encounter with North Melbourne.
As the Crows sweat on Taylor Walker's fitness after the spearhead reported calf soreness on Friday, Crouch is grappling with being dropped for a second time in less than two months.
The Crows' 2007 club champion was overlooked for three games from round eight and again finds himself on the outer after returning for the past three matches.
"The first 24 hours, all players, they get to where they are because they're super-competitive, so I have got no doubt at the moment Matty is doing it quite tough," Nicks told reporters on Friday.
"(He is) really disappointed. And it's a hard one because it's a challenge for any competitive sports person to not be selected."
Crouch, a renowned inside midfielder, was being challenged to find impact on the outside of packs.
"We were exposed in that (outside work) on the weekend, Gold Coast really did put us to the sword a little bit on the outside," Nicks said.
"It's dual, it's what the team needs, for Matty it's a bit of balance, a bit of outside work ... the game requires you to really get on the outside."
Crouch has been replaced by 21-year-old Harry Schoenberg but Nicks rejected suggestions the 27-year-old Crouch was at the crossroads given the Crows were rebuilding with a youth focus.
"No, because we always want to keep that balance right with experience and youth," he said.
"There's a fine line with that ... we're constantly looking at that (experience and youth) balance and that is where Matty is really important to us as a footy club."
Key forward Walker could be given until match-day to prove his fitness.
"It's a little bit concerning that his calf is tight but he is quietly confident that he'll be fine," Nicks said.
"He doesn't have to train tomorrow.
"With his experience we will leave that one with him and the doctors to make a call on and it may be a game-day call."
Australian Associated Press
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