Wangaratta star Michael Newton’s hopes of winning the Doug Strang Medal have taken a hit due to a hamstring problem.
Newton will miss Saturday’s home clash against North Albury.
“He’ll be right for Myrtleford,” Pies’ coach Dean Stone said.
“If we were playing in a final this week, he’d play.”
Wangaratta’s outstanding season has allowed a precautionary measure, given there’s just three rounds left.
The Pies sit in second and face teams out of contention.
Newton injured his hamstring against Wodonga early in the third term and didn’t return.
He sits second on the goalkicking ladder with 65, eight behind Albury’s Josh Mellington.
Darcy Laffy replaces Newton.
Laffy kicked six goals in only his second game against Yarrawonga in round four.
The Pies will also be without suspended midfielder Matt Kelly.
The Hoppers are also missing the suspended Josh Lloyd.