MARCUS DeLeur returns from a head knock but Cardiff will still be missing 22 players from the senior list when they take on Singleton in a crunch AFL Hunter Central Coast clash at Pasterfield Sports Complex on Saturday.
The Hawks, one of the competition's perennial powerhouse clubs, have lost four straight since opening the season with a comprehensive win over Nelson Bay.
"We are very light on at the moment," Cardiff coach Mitch Ede said. "We have 22 blokes out. Bryce Graetz has one more game on a suspension and the rest are injuries. Some are impact injuries, others soft tissue.
"I don't think the club has experienced this many in one hit. I'm not sure whether it is my coaching or we have found the Bermuda triangle of injuries.
"We are expecting at least half that group back in the next two to three weeks.
"By the back end of the season we should be quite strong. "
DeLeur, who lives in Armidale and travels down to play, copped a heavy knock against Killarney Vale a fortnight ago and sat out the 44-point loss to arch rivals City last round.
"He had a week off to recharge the batteries," Ede said. "He generally plays in the midfield but is starting in the forward line this week to give us a bit more bulk up front.
"Matt King makes his debut on the bench. He is up from the under-17s. He is a tall, lanky kid. When Marcus goes back into midfield, he will go forward. He is quite quick for a tall."
Although going down to City, Ede said there were some encouraging signs.
"We played a lot better last week," he said. "We lost Nick Tomlinson, Mattie Vukovic to injury in the first half, but we finished the stronger which is promising.
"It depend on who Singleton have. Throw in Sam Brasington, Andrew Scott and Alex Mitchell in there and they are pretty dangerous."
Singleton also only have the one win, beating Nelson Bay by 100 points in round three, and welcome back Brasington against the Hawks.
"It is probably our strongest side for the season," player coach Jed Ellis-Cliff said. "Sam Brassington comes back in and will give us a focal point up front.
"We need to give the forwards a chance. The past two weeks especially, the forwards have gotten into good position but we have missed the targets. It is almost impossible to kick a score.
"Our ball movement through the centre of the ground will be key. That is where we have been breaking down a bit."
A win would move the Roosters above Cardiff into fifth, having played one less game.
"If we could get to the bye weekend two and three [win-loss record], we would b pretty happy," Ellis-Cliff said.
"If we are one and four that leaves us with a lot of work to make up in the back half."
Elsewhere Saturday, Newcastle City tackle cellar dwellers Nelson Bay at Hawkins Oval, leaders Terrigal Avoca are at home to Killarney Vale and Gosford host Maitland at Adcock Oval. Warners Bay have the bye.
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