MELBOURNE may have to be "adventurous" with its ruck setup over the next few games after receiving news that All Australian ruckman Max Gawn will be sidelined for up to a month with a hamstring injury.
Gawn suffered the injury to his right hamstring in the second quarter of the Demons' 29-point loss to Geelong at Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
Demons coach Simon Goodwin said the club would use this week, in the lead up to its round four clash against Fremantle at the MCG, to consider its contingency plan in Gawn's absence.
"From what we can gather it's just a standard hamstring, so normally they're four weeks so we'll be without the big fella for a while," Goodwin said.
"We'll have to find a way to come up with something that's going to work over the next few weeks. He's a big part of our team but I know our coaches are really keen on being adventurous and trying new things.
"We'll sit down during the week and assess what our best options are moving forward."
Gawn hurt his hamstring when he slid to the turf attempting to tackle Geelong skipper Joel Selwood.
Gawn immediately signaled to the bench that he needed assistance and limped from the ground gingerly, going straight down to the change rooms assisted by Melbourne doctor Zeeshan Arain.
"He just stopped suddenly, so initially it was going to be his knee or his hamstring and thankfully it was his hamstring," Goodwin said.
"We'll get him assessed and get the full results tomorrow (Sunday). The medical team have done a terrific job with our group over a couple of years now so it'll be a standard four weeks and hopefully get him back as quick as we can."
With Gawn not playing any further part in the match after half-time, the Demons had to rely on forward Jack Watts to compete in the ruck against Cats pair Zac Smith and Mark Blicavs.
Despite not being a recognised ruckman, Watts was forced to carry the ruck load and fought on valiantly, albeit losing the hit-outs 56-32, to be one of Melbourne's best players in his ability to motor up and down the ground.
"I thought he performed pretty strongly today, Jack," Goodwin said.
"Certainly his second and third quarters were outstanding. It's a big role for him to play and I thought he fought on manfully today and he looked really good around the contest."
Goodwin said Melbourne would have to consider whether it could go into games against the Dockers, Richmond, Melbourne and Hawthorn with Watts as the designated ruckman.
The Demons also have back-up big man Jake Spencer ready and waiting, and the 203cm ruckman proved during the JLT Community Series, paired with Gawn, that he was a willing and able option if called upon.
Melbourne seriously considered whether it could play both Gawn and Spencer in the team in round one.
Spencer has played 36 games for Melbourne since making his debut in round one, 2009, but was not called upon last season as the Demons preferred Gawn as the one-out ruckman under then-coach Paul Roos.
"Jake played [for Casey] today and he's the second ruck and the logical option, but we'll sit down during the week and assess what we're going to do," Goodwin said.
Spencer had around 30 hit-outs, 12 disposals and kicked a goal for Casey in its 31-point victory over Werribee in a VFL practice match on Saturday.