Hamilton and Charlestown’s defensive stocks will be tested when they face off without their No.1 centre-backs on Wednesday night at Lisle Carr Oval.
Charlestown marquee Ljubo Milicevic and Olympic skipper Kyle Hodges are set to miss the catch-up game.
Milicevic twisted his knee before half-time in the 1-0 win over Magic on Sunday and Hodges battled through a back injury in the 3-2 loss to the Jets Youth on Saturday.
Hamilton coach Peter McGuinness said: “Kyle is in doubt, I don’t think he will be available, so we’re going to miss him.”
He hoped to have Blake Green (ankle) back but said Jed Hornery (hamstring) and Jarryd Sutherland (knee) remained sidelined.
Blues coach David Tanchevski said Milicevic was having an MRI on Tuesday and “will miss a couple of weeks at least”. Defensive options Danny Laiman (knee) and Zac Lloyd (hamstring) are also out. No.1 keeper Danny Ireland (thigh) is also sidelined. Jim Fogarty debuted last Sunday in goals.
The game looms as crucial to the finals picture. Charlestown (22 points) are fifth, behind Maitland on goals difference, while Hamilton are six points off the top four but with two games in hand.
Olympic missed an opportunity to make up ground on Saturday when they lost to an understrength Jets Youth.
“We threw that many opportunities away, it was back to rounds one, two and three,” McGuinness said.
“The Jets were good value, but we didn’t defend our box well enough and we didn’t attack their box well enough.”