Connor Rozee is confident Port Adelaide have the depth to thrive this AFL season as they brace for the prospect of two star forwards making a delayed start to 2022.
Charlie Dixon and Orazio Fantasia have both suffered off-season setbacks, with the club to consult experts before deciding whether surgery is required.
Dixon tore ligaments in his left ankle during a training mishap on Friday, when the power forward landed awkwardly on a teammate's foot after a marking contest.
Fantasia, who underwent surgery on both knees after Port's preliminary-final loss to Western Bulldogs, is having ongoing issues with his right knee.
Rozee is unsure whether the duo will be ready to play on March 19, when Port start their campaign with a match against Brisbane at the Gabba.
It comes after the club's injury-cursed 2021, when Fantasia's mid-season knee surgery was one of several headaches for coach Ken Hinkley.
"It can get a little bit annoying, especially during the season when you've got numbers going down," Rozee said.
"And, depending on the personnel, it can have a pretty big impact on the group.
"But we've got a lot of young boys coming through that have been really promising throughout pre-season. These injuries have given them opportunities to step up in match play and that sort of thing.
"One of our main strengths is our depth and that will have to get tested again this season."
Rozee was preparing to play more midfield minutes this season, which is likely to remain the case.
The 22-year-old noted he is happy to play up forward if Fantasia, who was restricted to 15 games in his first season at Port, is unavailable.
"He (Fantasia) is in good spirits, as he as he normally is," Rozee said.
"They're slowing getting him back into the main group.
"Not rushing him, so he doesn't do anything more serious.
"Similar to Charlie, he's obviously done this before.
"Hopefully he can just be back for round one."
Dixon's left foot is in a moon boot.
The power forward played all 24 matches last season, booting 48 goals to finish the Power's leading goal-kicker, and his absence would be a major blow.
"It was a pretty innocuous incident," Rozee said.
"Hopefully it's not too long term, fingers crossed.
"They're still working out exactly what sort of surgery or if he has to have surgery.
"So it's hard to put a time on those sort of things. There's still a fair way to go before the season starts, so hopefully he doesn't miss too much football.
"He's had serious injuries before so he knows how to deal with it. We're fully confident that he'll be back, better than ever."
Australian Associated Press