Greater Western Sydney have been dealt two massive blows with Jeremy Cameron and Tom Scully both ruled out of Sunday's game against Carlton.
The Giants had been optimistic Cameron would be able to prove he had overcome an ankle injury at training on Saturday but have made an early call on the fitness of the All-Australian forward.
Scully is also a withdrawal after hurting his hamstring at training on Thursday. The injury, believed to be back-related, also places him in doubt for next week's Sydney derby.
The importance of Scully and Cameron to the Giants is underlined by the duo having played in each of the club's six victories since entering the league in 2012.
The Giants have recalled Tom Boyd for his first game since round six. Also back are defenders Kristian Jaksch and Adam Kennedy while hard nut Jacob Townsend has been omitted.
The Giants had a spike in form in the past month, following up honourable losses against Hawthorn and Essendon with a drought-breaking win against Brisbane last week.
"It's a great opportunity for us to back up again and make it four weeks in a row where we're really, really competitive," coach Leon Cameron said.
Carlton coach Mick Malthouse has declared his team is playing its best football in his 18 months in charge and has revealed the list will not be pruned as heavily as last year when this season's review begins.
The Blues sit three matches outside of the top eight, having dropped their past three games. This involved a shattering defeat to Brisbane but they have played well against premiership aspirants Geelong (lost by five points) and Hawthorn (lost by 28 points).
The Blues have tinkered their game plan, appearing to give greater freedom to attack through the corridor, and Malthouse has given several fringe players the opportunity to show they belong at the elite level.
"There is no doubt, I think we are playing as good a football as we have played in the 18 months – yet we haven't won games," Malthouse said.
The Blues dropped their opening four matches, prompting heavy criticism, but rebounded to win four of five before their recent woes. Malthouse asked several players before training on Friday for an appraisal of their development.
"We are comfortable that the side we are trying to put out there is one that is growing," he said. "We have identified a weakness in the back line in height, so we have put Sam Rowe down there.
"As we discussed: 'Have you improved Sam?' His answer was that 'I have got more accustomed to playing on the big name players, I have tried to improve every week by just trying to take one step at a time'. He is now in the phase of being a highly reliable key back.
"Last week, I thought Levi Casboult took a giant step in regards to understanding that we just don't put him in the side, we rely on him to be in the side. He is starting to feel more accustomed to that.
"His big test will be when [Matthew] Kreuzer returns. Can we play those players all together? What he has got to demonstrate before Matthew gets back is that he is a first picked player."
Casboult is off contract and his management is unlikely to open serious negotiations until the end of the season, when a clearer understanding of the power forward's long-term role can be better understood.
"It's the same with midfielders," Malthouse said. "Chris Judd – are we better with him in? Of course we are. He is a champion player.
"Can we do without him? We have got to make sure our side wins games when he is not playing, which we have done, but now we have to say 'who is going to take over?'
"Unfortunately, [Patrick] Cripps broke his leg but he will be back in the next couple of weeks. When he plays good football in the reserves, he will come back in."
The story GWS Giants duo Jeremy Cameron and Tom Scully ruled out of clash with Carlton Blues first appeared on The Age.