Carlton is set to welcome back a host of stars for Friday night’s blockbuster against arch rival Collingwood.
Plus an out-of-favour Pie has pressed his claim for a recall, while a prized Bomber is closing in on his debut.
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CARLTON coach Michael Voss says captain Patrick Cripps will play against Collingwood after overcoming a corked hamstring just in time for the Friday night blockbuster.
The star midfielder is set to be joined by Adam Cerra and Jack Martin, who also missed last week’s win over West Coast with respective hamstring and calf concerns.
Cripps was absent from training at Ikon Park on Thursday and Martin completed light drills away from the main group, but Voss said all the Blues facing fitness tests had cleared the necessary hurdles to be available for the Magpies clash.
Voss said Jesse Motlop and Matt Owies (calf injuries) were fit to play, while he confirmed Marc Pittonet would return to the side to replace Jack Silvagni, with Tom De Koning likely to spend more time as a forward.
He said the Blues had to be patient with Cripps’ knock over the last fortnight, but he felt “free enough” to perform in a game where a win over the arch rivals could return his side to the top eight for the first time since round 8.
“He’s followed all of what he’s needed to do … obviously he had important milestones to meet throughout the week, which he’s met,” Voss said.
“He’s ready to go and it’s obviously going to be a big game for us, but more than that it’s important to him that he’s right to go, and (because) he’s right to go, then he gets to play.
“Having him out there is fantastic – we’ve taken a good approach where the next man has come in and got their job done … we’re fortunate, obviously (Jack Silvagni) is out and (Sam Walsh) is out, so we’ll ask a couple of others to step in and do their roles.”
Along with Walsh and Silvagni, Paddy Dow and small forward Josh Honey appear the likely members of last week’s 22 to make way for Cripps, Cerra, Pittonet and Martin, while a fit-again Owies may have to bide his time in the VFL given the strong form of Jesse Motlop.
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Caleb Marchbank is also a strong chance for a senior return after pulling up well following his 29-disposal performance on a wing in Carlton’s VFL win last week.
Voss labelled Pittonet an “automatic inclusion” after he had 16 disposals, eight clearances, eight tackles and a goal in the same match.
“Pitto will come into the side … that speaks to what we do with Tom, there’ll be no real secrets there for us,” Voss said.
“He’s a bit of an automatic for us into the team, and he provides that aggression around the ball.
“That’s where it’s going to start … with a contest and plenty of pressure, which Collingwood have been able to bring across the whole year, so we know what’s coming.”
A crowd of more than 85,000 is expected for the clash, and while Voss said he had not played up the significance of the game to the group, he admitted the occasion was “pretty exciting”.
“They do take on that little bit of extra meaning … we’re certainly aware of what’s in front of us and the rivalry that exists, and we played a couple of really strong games against each other last year,” he said.
“We were off the mark (in the 28-point loss in round 10), but yes, it’s an important game for both teams.”
COLLINGWOOD coach Craig McRae is confident Isaac Quyanor, Josh Daicos and Bobby Hill will all be available to play in Friday night’s blockbuster despite missing Tuesday’s training session through illness.
Cooper Murley was also absent from the session, but McRae emphasised that the club was just sticking to its strict sick policy with players and staff in telling them to stay home.
“Just another week in viral land that we live in,” McRae told reporters on Tuesday.
“We’ve got four guys that are viral and we just don’t want them in our building with a sniffy nose or a cough. That’s just what we do.
“We trust that they’re all going to be OK to play.”
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McRae confirmed Will Hoskin-Elliott got through training and is “available to play”, while Jack Ginnivan continues to put his name up for a recall.
Ginnivan had his best game yet in the VFL last weekend against Sandringham, racking up 28 disposals with 2.3.
“I really enjoyed Jack’s game at VFL, I’ve been watching him closely for a number of weeks now.,” he said.
“He’s been training at a really high standard for probably a month and hasn’t quite got the reward on match day until last week. He really played above VFL level and looked like an AFL player.
“We were really pleased with his performance.”
ESSENDON coach Brad Scott says Jake Stringer remains “medically available” to play but will be under the microscope at training ahead of a do-or-die clash against Sydney.
Stringer trained lightly on Wednesday morning after he struggled physically in the loss to the Western Bulldogs, in which he managed only eight disposals and did not start at a centre bounce after quarter time.
Scott said Stringer would need to show he could draw on his trademark strength and power to be picked against the Swans despite being cleared by medical staff.
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“We’ve had a few of these (situations) this year … Dylan Shiel is another example where players were not medically ruled out, but I think it’s probably plain for all to see that in Shiely’s case he just couldn’t play the way we knew he can,” Scott said.
“Jake’s medically available, we’ve just got to assess whether he can perform somewhere near his best.
“Like all coaches say, once you declare yourself fit to play, you’re fit to play … but particularly at round 20, every player has got a degree of ‘fit to play’.”
The Bombers need to cover the loss of crucial defender Jordan Ridley against a Swans forward line bolstered by Lance Franklin’s return to form in the past fortnight.
Scott said Sam Weideman was in the frame for a recall in the vacant key defensive post after he switched to the backline in the VFL following his omission last week.
The former Demon impressed with 24 disposals and 13 marks in a narrow loss to Williamstown, but a fit-again Kaine Baldwin looms as the frontrunner for the spot after playing in defence at senior level earlier this season.
“(Weideman) played really well in defence given he’s probably played about a half of footy in his life in defence,” Scott said.
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“He’s got a lot of attributes that suit playing as a key defender … he’s certainly an option.”
Scott said whether the Bombers remained in finals contention in coming weeks might influence how soon Sam Draper and Shiel return “by degrees”, but neither would return until they were close to 100 per cent fit and remained “week-by-week propositions”.
The duo were put through a series of movement drills away from the main group on Wednesday.
Scott said No.5 pick Elijah Tsatas was closing in on a senior debut after adapting well to coaches’ demands in the last fortnight in the VFL.
More than two years after he last played in the AFL Irishman Mark Keane could be thrust into the cauldron of a must-win showdown for injury-hit ADELAIDE.
The loss of key defender Nick Murray, who ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament against Melbourne last Sunday, and with Tom Doedee sidelined by the same long-term injury, Keane, who played all of his five AFL games with Collingwood, looms as the most likely replacement.
Keane, 23, last played in Round 9, 2021, and after signing with the Crows in the pre-season and has played 13 games for Adelaide‘s reserves with one of his best coming in last Sunday’s big 69-point win over Woodville-West Torrens.
The Crows have to also replace electric forward Izak Rankine and assistant coach Nathan van Berlo said Adelaide would look at a range of options to replace them, with Keane’s name in the mix.
“Regardless of what game we play, we’ve got confidence in our form below. Mark is certainly one of those guys who has been playing some strong footy,” van Berlo said.
“If he plays this week, we’ll back in that he plays a role within our system.
“A huge part of our selection discussions is match-ups and it doesn’t always mean we go like for like and that‘s based on what the opposition presents to us as well.
“We’ve got a number of guys playing some good strong footy behind the ball in particular, Mark Keane, James Borlase, Will Hamill, and Paddy Parnell to name a few guys who are in strong form.”
Star midfielder Rory Laird is also expected to be available to face Port after missing last week’s MCG loss with a shoulder injury.
Laird was still avoiding contact at training on Wednesday morning but his potential inclusion looms as a huge one against Port Adelaide’s stacked midfield.
“He had a fair bit of swelling and soreness over the weekend. It looks like it has settled down reasonably well,” van Berlo said.
“The signs were good today for sure.”
Laird’s likely inclusion could mean bad news for Matt Crouch despite racking up 22 disposals, nine tackles and seven clearances in just his second appearance of 2023 against Melbourne.
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ST KILDA won’t rush forward Tim Membrey straight back for his first match since suffering a knee injury.
Coach Ross Lyon said a VFL return loomed for Membrey as he looks to build form for the late matches.
“He’s had long-term rehab, he’s progressing beautifully,” Lyon said.
“It’s been significant not having him and Max (King) nearly all year … We’re excited where Tim’s got himself to … he’s worked really hard.”
Lyon also confirmed star Max King was tracking ahead of schedule as he pushes to return from a serious shoulder issue.
Despite initial fears King’s season was over when he dislocated his shoulder, Lyon said the star forward could be back as early as Round 21.
“If we can get them back at the pointy end, that would be nice.”
Rowan Marshall left the training track early on Wednesday, but Fox Footy’s Drew Jones reports the club said it was “nothing out of the ordinary” for the ruck who turned the match last week as a forward.
SYDNEY are confident veteran Lance Franklin can back up the long trip to Perth and shrug off a knock to his knee to face the Bombers.
Franklin was forced on a “Tour de France” of his own in Perth, according to coach John Longmire, as he headed to the boundary to try and overcome the knee soreness on the stationary bike.
And he was able to return and kick an equal season-high three goals.
The Swans have taken a cautious approach with Franklin this season, but look set to have the star back up this weekend.
“He trained (Tuesday) and trained really well so that’s always a good sign. It’s going to be a week-to-week proposition for him – the good thing is he was able to train – and we’ll see how he pulls up after that,” Longmire said.
Hayden McLean looks set to hold on to the number one ruck mantle after Peter Ladhams didn’t get the chance to play VFL last weekend due to the bye.
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That would leave Tom Hickey also out once more.
“We thought (McLean) did a reasonable job against Jackson. He’s a little bit undersized but he competes well, he’s predictable and gets in the right spots when he needs to,” Longmire said.
WEST COAST could still be without star Tom Barrass for the clash with North Melbourne this weekend.
The key defender missed the big loss to Carlton after landing heavily on his shoulder the week prior against Richmond.
Captain Luke Shuey is a confirmed non-starter after scans confirmed another hamstring issue will sideline him for at least a fortnight.
Shuey’s latest soft tissue issue could open the door for Xavier O’Neill to get another reprieve.
Luke Edwards, Greg Clark and Zane Trew all played in West Coast’s WAFL loss and could earn a call up.
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NORTH MELBOURNE look set to regain co-captain Jy Simpkin after his concussion.
Simpkin suffered his second concussion of the year back in Round 17, and hasn’t played since due to lingering symptoms.
“Jy has now cleared those markers and has had a couple of non-contact football sessions on-ground … he will fully train on Friday,” head of performance Kevin White said.
But the club will need to replace injured Liam Shiels for the trip west.
Charlie Lazzaro (back soreness), Tom Powell and Flynn Perez will all need to prove their fitness to make that trip as well.
Mid-season pick Robert Hansen Jnr could also be considered for his AFL debut in front of family and friends in WA, while Hugh Greenwood is likely to earn a recall.
-With Ed Bourke from NCA NewsWire
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