Midfielder Rhys Palmer appears to have escaped the serious ankle damage first feared, but the Dockers face the rest of the home-and-away season without Matt de Boer and have doubts about ruckman Jonathon Griffin’s fitness.

Palmer could miss as few as two to three weeks after scans cleared him of structural damage to his right ankle, which he clutched at after landing awkwardly in a contest against Hawthorn at Patersons Stadium on Saturday night.

He was in tears on the boundary line after suffering the injury and on crutches, still in pain, after the game. But he is understood to have improved and now holds hopes of playing again by round 22.

De Boer, who damaged a medial ligament in his right knee just before Palmer went down, faces up to six weeks on the sidelines and looks unlikely to play again this season unless the Dockers make the finals. They are eighth but have a tough run home.

But the bombshell for the Dockers could be that Griffin, who has filled in admirably for the injured Aaron Sandilands over the past two months, could also face an early end to the season after confirmation that the hip injury that has bothered him in the past three weeks is a chronic problem. Griffin remains a chance to play in a critical game against St Kilda at Etihad Stadium on Friday night, but with Sandilands’ return imminent would likely be rested if the problem worsened.

Griffin was a late withdrawal on Saturday night against Hawthorn.

He had failed to complete a training session during the week and also had to be subbed out of the western derby the previous week.

It is understood Griffin was also set to be subbed out of Fremantle’s win against Sydney at the SCG a fortnight ago before Michael Johnson received a kick to the calf muscle, virtually immobilising him.

Dockers coach Mark Harvey could not confirm that Griffin would be fit to play against the Saints.

“Not sure,” he said. “It is hard with big guys and the positions they play. It is just a matter of whether he can continually jump and cover ground.

“He has had it on and off throughout the year, but it has just got worse and direct blows obviously inflame the area, things like direct kneeing in a ruck contest.” Harvey said Sandilands would “probably not” be fit to tackle the Saints.


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