North Melbourne coach David Noble won't use injuries as an excuse as his AFL side's search for their first victory of the year continues in Geelong on Sunday.
Reigning best and fairest Luke McDonald (pectoral surgery) and young forward Cameron Zurhaar (concussion) will both be enforced omissions for the Kangaroos' clash with the Cats.
The duo join Robbie Tarrant, Jared Polec, Jed Anderson, Aidan Corr and several other teammates on the sidelines at North, who are the only AFL club yet to win this season.
"It's not too tough. I don't concede to that side of things," Noble told reporters in Melbourne, when asked about the injury toll.
"The growth and opportunity for those guys (playing) ... is huge for us.
"What injuries allow you to do is look at something a bit different. A couple of players, they might play somewhere different this week compared to last week."
Noble, who knows Patrick Dangerfield well from their time at Adelaide, is unsure what to expect from the returning Geelong superstar.
"Can't remember how he comes off a spell. It doesn't happen very often," Noble said.
"They're getting some talent back in and we'll have plans for all those guys.
"It won't just be about Patrick."
Noble argued his charges were closer to Adelaide in round four than the 41-point margin suggested, adding that Geelong represented a good test for North "to see where we're legitimately at".
"They are a renowned top-level performer, regular finalist. That's who we need to pitch ourselves against," he said.
"We look forward to driving down the highway and taking on last year's grand finalist, it's great for our young group to have those experiences."
Australian Associated Press