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Malthouse doubts Essendon's injury list

25/07/2008 05:09:26 PM Comments (0)

Collingwood are desperate to shore up their position in the eight, with coach Mick Malthouse claiming that finishing in the AFL top four is not currently on the radar.

The Magpies' top four aspirations took a hit after losing to North Melbourne last weekend, while Sydney strengthened their grip on fourth place with a win over Carlton.

Although Collingwood appears to have an easier run home than the Swans, last weekend's results put Sydney a game and a half clear of the fifth-placed Magpies.

In the buildup to Saturday's clash with arch-rivals Essendon, Malthouse would not entertain the prospect of his team capturing fourth spot and the finals' double chance.

"Let's not worry about the top four - I'm not thinking of the top four," Malthouse said.

"We're worried about making the top eight. We reckon we need probably three games to secure that.

"Our first goal is to win this game (against Essendon) and get four points and that takes us to 10 (wins) and we'll worry about the 11th game and what we need to do next time."

Earlier this week, the Bombers listed 18 players as being unavailable for selection, with coach Matthew Knights saying he had just 26 players at his disposal.

While Dustin Fletcher (ankle), Angus Monfries (ankle) and Andrew Welsh (concussion) were all picked for the MCG clash, Malthouse believed the Bombers had several others fit to play, doubting the extent of their injury list.

"I look at (Essendon's injury list) in its entirety, I don't listen to what people tell me," Malthouse said.

"I look at their seconds and my forward scout watched their training during the week and he says 35 Essendon players trained on their ground, of which 11 are now playing in their (VFL affiliate) Bendigo side (on Saturday).

"Eleven and 22 equals 33, that's 33 players to pick from. It's hardly 24 or 25."

Collingwood ruckman Josh Fraser continues to play for Collingwood's VFL side due to a lingering knee injury sustained in the Hall of Fame Tribute match.

Malthouse said he would not be tempted to use his No.1 ruckman in a permanent forward role, meaning Fraser would only return to the seniors when the club doctors decided his injured knee was ready to handle rucking again.

"He's got to play the role he's best accustomed to and that is the ruck," Malthouse said.

"If he goes forward, like he has been over his career, it will be cameos.

"Josh can play forward but not as a permanent forward."

But in a spirited defence for Fraser, Malthouse denounced questions over Fraser's status at the

club.

"We have elected to not to play him until the medical people believe that he's capable of rucking again which is distinctly different to running around the ground at seconds level," he said.

"So he hasn't gone down in any of our calculations of where he sits, he's the No.1 ruckman at this football club.

"So therefore, we can get rid of all the rumour, innuendo, guess work, second guessing that he is dropping in the pecking order."

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