NORTH Warrnambool Eagles are sweating on the severity of a facial injury to a key defender sustained in their win against Camperdown on Saturday.
Tom Batten was hurt in a marking contest late in the 20.17 (137) to 3.3 (21) victory at Bushfield Recreation Reserve.
Eagles coach Adam Dowie said the former Hampden interleague representative would be a loss if he were to miss matches.
But the club is hopeful fellow key position back Joe McKinnon, who has been sidelined with a foot injury, will come into consideration for selection against Port Fairy next week.
"Tom has a little depressed fracture of his cheekbone so I don't know how long that takes," Dowie said.
"He went up for a marking contest, it was purely accidental. It is going to test us a little bit.
"Joe's been out and Adam Wines played back yesterday. It stretches us a little bit but that's OK."
Dowie, who was pleased with his side's contested work and pressure, said the Eagles' theme was covering all bases in the run home.
"We feel like we've thrown guys around a bit and there's been quarters in games for whatever reason we haven't played at our best or had intensity that we need but we know there's going to be questions asked," he said.
"(Top side) Koroit are going to ask all types of questions of every side.
"Before the game and after the game I said to the boys 'you have to be asking yourself those questions now, in terms of fitness, speed, endurance, is it your contested footy or your uncontested footy or is it ground balls, or is it accountability or discipline'."
Dowie said the Eagles were always working on ways to improve.
"Our forwards were under the microscope in terms of how well they defend," he said.
"When had some pretty good conversations with them and some pretty straight down the line conversations with a few of them and the second half was better.
"It's still not perfect but hopefully we're getting there."
Camperdown coach Neville Swayn said it was a challenging match from start to finish for the undermanned Magpies.
"They were way too good for us. They controlled the game and every quarter they spread really well and got a heap of run from their half-backs," he said.
"They will no doubt go very deep come September."
Nathan Vardy, as is becoming custom, was a threat in attack for the Eagles, finishing with six goals.
"(Ben) Kellett played in the ruck which I probably didn't see coming and I thought he rucked really well and gave them first use," Swayn said.
"Vardy is just so big. Jarrod Evans played on him and tried hard but there's little you can do sometimes when the ball is coming down like that with not a lot of pressure.
"Our back six did try hard but you can only hold up for so long. As I said to the guys after the game, you have to learn from losses like this."
Swayn is expecting five players, including Charlie Lucas and Harry Sumner from concussion protocols, to return next week against Terang Mortlake.
"We'll try and tick some boxes in the second half of the year, whether that means wins or losses or other areas, it's something we'll have to work through," he said.
"We'll just have to keep working hard and keep everyone positive."
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