Albury star Daniel Cross is only a 50/50 chance of playing in the grand final on Saturday week.
Scans have revealed bleeding in his calf area.
Cross was regarded as one of the fittest players in his distinguished 249-game AFL career with the Western Bulldogs and Melbourne, but a calf problem a fortnight out from the decider will test even his recuperative powers.
“I’m optimistic,” co-coach Joel Mackie said.
“He’s the ultimate professional, so if anyone’s going to do it, it would be ‘Crossy’.
“You look at the way he prepares, you know what he does in Melbourne, he’s the first in at Melbourne and the last to leave.
“He does his own fitness stuff there and he then trains the boys, so he’s on the rehab side of things, so he’s always training.”
The 34-year-old won the Did Simpson Medal in last year’s 40-point win over Lavington.
While his absence would definitely help the chances of the winner from Sunday’s preliminary final clash between Wangaratta and Yarrawonga, it would be disappointing for neutral fans who want to see the best players.
The Border Mail conducted a player poll of 50 players in July and Cross topped the voting with 15.
He probably would have attracted more votes, but had missed a number of games with his running commitments with AFL outfit, Melbourne.
Meanwhile, Mackie himself is still recovering from a torn calf.
“There was a small nick,” he said.
“It ended up getting tight in the first quarter against Myrtleford (in the final round).
“It will be four weeks until I play next, but if I had to play on the weekend (against Wangaratta) I would have, if it was do or die.”
The Tigers are also waiting on results after defender Luke Packer injured his hamstring in the win over the Pies.
Albury will be chasing a record-equalling fourth flag.