TUMBARUMBA has been dealt a savage blow in the countdown to finals with rugged midfielder Stephen Barnes set to miss the remainder of the season with a collapsed arch in his foot.
The reigning league medallist suffered the injury in the Roos’ slogging 14-point win over Border-Walwa last week.
Roos’ coach Matt Howarth said the absence of their No. 1 ball winner was a major setback as they fight with Federal for the last spot in the four.
“It’s a massive loss,” Howarth said.
“He had only just come back from injury and got through half the game and that was it.
“The arch of his foot just collapsed and the early diagnosis is that it could sideline him for up to 18 months.”
Further compounding the Roos’ woes, tough nut Simon Brook hasn’t played for the past three weeks and has departed the club.
Despite the setbacks, Howarth said the Roos’ were focused on shoring up their spot inside the top four and claiming a major scalp with five rounds remaining before finals.
“I suppose the positive is we are still fourth and our destiny is in our own hands,” he said.
“The challenge for us is we haven’t beaten a side above us on the ladder yet but we get another opportunity against Corryong on Saturday.
“We are yet to play anywhere near our best football and I would like to think we are capable of pushing Corryong if we can.
“At the start of the year Corryong looked to be the side to beat, but judging by the results over the past month it is starting to look a bit vulnerable.”
Howarth said restricting the ball-winning ability of midfielders Evan Nicholas and Shannon Gilson, alongside forwards Andrew Reid and Adrian Rijnbeek, was the key to an upset.
Cudgewa looks to have too much class for Federal while Bullioh can hold second spot with a win against Border-Walwa.