Injury-plagued Richard Hadley has suffered another setback as he attempts to lead East Fremantle back from their 1-3 start to the season.
Hadley, whose 10-year AFL career was cruelled by injury, has suffered a knee injury that may keep him out of action until the Foundation Day derby.
Hadley damaged a medial ligament in the round-four loss to West Perth on Saturday. He played out the game but scans later showed the ligament had been torn.
His absence is a severe setback for the Sharks as they prepare for the critical derby against South Fremantle at Fremantle Oval on Monday.
Senior players Ryley Dunn and Michael Warren are still several weeks away from returning, and the team's lack of attacking options mean they have kicked the second-fewest points in the competition.
After playing in Brisbane's 2003 premiership in just his fourth senior match and becoming a regular player the following year when he played in the Lions' losing grand final team, Hadley broke down on the eve of the next two seasons and needed two knee reconstructions.
He shifted to Carlton in 2008 but managed only 25 matches in three seasons to go with his 41 games in seven years with Brisbane.
His return to East Fremantle this year helped drive the club's expectation that it would improve on its fourth place last year but the next month will be crucial to the Sharks' prospects of qualifying for the finals.
South Fremantle are set to get Theo Adams back for the derby on Monday after he pulled up well from playing reserves on Saturday.
Adams suffered a broken collarbone during pre-season but is poised to play his first senior match in more than a year after a heart complaint forced a premature end to his 2010 season.