MELBOURNE is bracing to be without star defender Steven May for multiple weeks after he was taken to hospital following a gruesome eye injury during the side's resounding victory over Geelong on Sunday.
May was caught by a stray elbow from Cats spearhead Tom Hawkins early in the second quarter, coming straight from the field with blood streaming from his eye region and with significant swelling around the area.
The Demons are still investigating whether May also sustained a concussion as a result of the blow that would subsequently force him into the AFL's new 12-day protocol, but the club does not believe he will be fit to play in the immediate future regardless.
Adam Tomlinson replaced May in manning Hawkins and performed admirably, though it's a brutal blow for the unbeaten Melbourne as it prepares to continue its successful start to the year against Hawthorn and Richmond over the next fortnight.
"He's gone to hospital," Demons coach Simon Goodwin said afterwards.
"It's more about some stuff around his eye and getting that checked out. We're not sure what that looks like yet, we'll wait and see. Clearly, he's going to miss a few weeks and that's disappointing.
"We're still getting all of the details (around concussion), so we're not 100 per cent sure. But it's going to be a few weeks anyway. Concussion, the eye … whatever that looks like, it's going to be a few weeks."
Melbourne has earmarked youngster Harrison Petty to potentially fill May's void in the backline, categorically ruling out Tom McDonald making a return to a defensive position in the coming weeks.
That's despite key forward duo Sam Weideman and Ben Brown making it through a VFL practice match unscathed on Saturday, with both set to again line up for Casey in its round one clash against Frankston next week.