Injury plague shaping AFL premiership race

Roger Vaughan

After a weekend of carnage, injuries are shaping the AFL premiership race almost as much as wins and losses.

Port Adelaide's three casualties were a factor in the last-gasp loss to West Coast, while GWS once again have had no luck and finals outsiders Essendon were left with no fit men on the bench in the last quarter.

Luckless Sydney defender Alex Johnson will need a sixth knee reconstruction after he was hurt early in the Swans' big Sunday win over Melbourne.

Max Gawn has a corked calf and struggled for mobility against Sydney but coach Simon Goodwin is confident the star Melbourne ruckman won't miss any games.

The damage extended to the VFL, with Bernie Vince's season over and Ben Reid suffering another setback.

But there was some good news in round 21, with Geelong ironman Zach Tuohy confident his consecutive-games streak will continue despite a broken bone in his right hand.

Also, in-form Hawthorn are on the verge of regaining two of their most important players, with Ben McEvoy and James Sicily closing on comebacks.

But Port have confirmed the season is over for forward Charlie Dixon, who will need surgery for the leg fracture he suffered in a marking contest on Saturday at Adelaide Oval.

They will also sweat on ruckman Paddy Ryder, who aggravated a hip flexor injury and sat out most of the second half.

Dan Houston was stretchered off and sent to hospital because of a neck injury but he could play in Saturday's clash with Collingwood.

At best, Giants defender Heath Shaw is sidelined until deep into the finals because of the knee injury he suffered in Saturday's win over Adelaide.

Star on-baller Josh Kelly (concussion) and Sam Reid (hamstring) also added to their horror injury list.

Essendon lost Brendon Goddard (knee), Adam Saad (concussion), Cale Hooker (knee) and Orazio Fantasia (hamstring) by three-quarter time of Friday's win over St Kilda.

While Geelong ruckman Rhys Stanley suffered a calf injury in the Saturday loss to Hawthorn, Tuohy thinks he will play at home on Saturday against Fremantle.

His streak of 135 games is the most among current players.

"I'm still optimistic I'm a good chance this week but we will look at the scans and chat with the surgeon," Tuohy told the Seven Network's AFL Game Day.

Hawthorn captain Jarryd Roughead (ankle) was a late withdrawal for Saturday''s clash.

Teammate Jonathon Ceglar had good news on McEvoy (cheek) and Sicily (broken wrist) and said they were hopeful of regaining Roughead for next Saturday night's game against St Kilda.

"Sic is two or three weeks away and Big Boy (McEvoy) is only a week," Ceglar told Channel Nine's Footy Show.

Vince's season is over after the Melbourne veteran hurt his AC joint in the VFL, with the shoulder injury needing surgery.

Reid's wretched luck with injury also continued when he hurt a calf in the VFL.