North Melbourne coach Rhyce Shaw is hopeful Jack Ziebell's absence from the line-up with a hamstring injury won't extend beyond Saturday night's AFL clash with the Western Bulldogs.
The Kangaroos skipper sustained the injury late in last week's tight loss to Hawthorn and was ruled out of the Marvel Stadium encounter ahead of Thursday's official team announcement.
"It's a little nick, it's not that bad, but in this season if you take a risk and it goes the wrong way for you then you can lose a lot of time," Shaw told reporters.
"And in this season we don't have that time, so we've got to make sure that risk mitigation is our highest priority.
"He's pretty confident, he wanted to get up this week, but we just made sure that we're ticking every box and hopefully he can prepare really well for next week."
Star midfielder Ben Cunnington was named in the side, but will need to pass a late fitness test having missed the past two matches with a back issue.
"It's really difficult to explain but he's improving every day," Shaw said of Cunnington's injury.
"It's just one of those things that you think you can get away with it, he trains and looks really good.
"It's a bit of a tricky one but I'm certainly not apologising for giving him the chance to get up.
"We'll name him but there will be an asterisk on that and we'll see how he goes at training (on Friday)."
Veteran defender Jamie Macmillan was also added to the team, while Paul Ahern was dropped.
The Roos were held scoreless in the third quarter by the Hawks, but finished with a late four-goal rally that fell four points short.
It followed a similar pattern to their first loss of the season a week earlier when Sydney also got the upper hand in the third quarter.
"It's been a bit of a trend for us ... that sustained effort over a longer period of time is what we're looking for," Shaw said.
"We did that against GWS and got a great result.
"But if you go to sleep for a quarter of two the game will get away from you.
"We've just got to come out and play our brand of footy as early as possible."
Australian Associated Press