The absence of Chris Goulding was impossible to miss in the second half of United’s 18-point defeat to the Hawks and coach Dean Demopoulos could shed little light post-match on the nature of the issue affecting his superstar.
Goulding didn’t return to the court in the third quarter after suffering what was said to be an ankle sprain in the first half.
Demopoulos wasn’t willing to speculate on the extent of the damage. “I don’t have a clue as to how concerned I should be but I’m always concerned,” he said.
Goulding is now in a race against time to be fit for Melbourne’s next game against ladder-leaders Adelaide on Thursday.
It shapes as a must-win for United as their spot in the top-four still hangs in the balance.
Melbourne have a 10-10 record, but have played more games than several teams in the chasing pack. They face Cairns Taipans (8-10) two days later in what shapes a massive round for the club.
"Game in, game out this league is a snake fight and if you let your guard down you get bit,” Demopoulos said of the coming matches.
"We have to make sure we make the most out of these next games, that we play each and every possession and see where it takes us."
Adelaide lead the competition with five rounds left.