Tigers physical performance manager Peter Burge said Astbury had surgery on Tuesday and will miss up to five weeks.
“He had some scans on Sunday and there’s a little bit of loose fragment of articular cartilage which had come off behind the patella which needs to be removed,” he said.
Burge said Josh Caddy, who struggled to have an impact against the Saints, had a minor glute strain but was expected to be fit for selection.
Defender Ryan Garthwaite, Patrick Naish, Daniel Rioli and Marlion Pickett are among those pushing for a recall to face Melbourne in a rejigged fixture on Sunday.
The Tigers are desperate to work their way out of a form slump that has left the premiers in 14th spot after a draw against Collingwood and defeats against Hawthorn and St Kilda since the season resumed after the COVID-19 break.
Several reasons have been offered – from a potential lack of hunger after two flags and a preliminary final in the past three years, to a lack of on-field pace and a game plan that has been worked out by rivals. Saints great Nick Riewoldt has even questioned whether their “behaviour” of sharing a joke before and during matches is the right attitude to have when a team is losing.
“They have been a really upbeat team. We have seen jokes in pre-games and at half-time and that is all good when you are winning. I wonder whether it’s the sort of behaviour that you need when you are trying to work your way out of a form slump. They will be asking themselves all these questions internally,” Riewoldt said on Fox Footy’s On the Couch.
Captain Trent Cotchin, however, provided his own insight, and in doing so endorsed what club chief executive Brendon Gale had indicated on Monday, that they were “learning to accept that the environment is different” and were struggling to deal with playing in empty stadiums without the ability to feed off the Tiger Army.
“We are really blessed as the Richmond footy club to have such amazing support. In reality, to a lot of different clubs, we aren’t quite used to having no noise at a stadium,” he said.
“I don’t think that is an excuse or a reason as to why we are not performing quite to the level. But all these things add up. We have got a range of experience within our team. Guys deal with things differently. We are just working through that to ensure come Sunday, hopefully, we are in far better place than we were last Saturday [against the Saints] and a lot better place than we were the Thursday prior [against Hawthorn].”
Cotchin said it was up to the players to “create your own energy”.
“I know that on TV and so forth it is a little bit different because there is different sounds to what they can apply to what is going on but being there, it’s a totally different environment but we now know what it looks and feels like and can adjust to,” he said.
The Tigers have not won a first term since the season resumed. They need more production from several players, including Dustin Martin, who is averaging a modest 20.67 disposals – five less than his career average – and has only the one goal (against the Blues) in his three matches. He had a modest 18 touches against the Saints.
Shai Bolton is the leading goal-kicker with seven while fellow small forward Jason Castagna and key tall Tom Lynch have six apiece. Jack Riewoldt has 4.6.
Meanwhile St Kilda have lost fringe midfielder Luke Dunstan to a serious pectoral injury. He requires surgery and is likely to miss most of the season.
And the Brisbane Lions will be without captain Dayne Zorko for two to three weeks after he suffered a calf injury.
Jon Pierik is cricket writer for The Age. He also covers AFL and has won awards for his cricket and basketball writing.
Michael Gleeson is an award-winning senior sports writer specialising in AFL and athletics.