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Magpies will be a bit patchy: Malthouse

By Adam Cooper 14/08/2008 06:29:51 PM Comments (0)

Collingwood coach Mick Malthouse cannot guarantee the Magpies will produce their best in every game before the AFL finals given the club's focus on blooding youngsters.

Inconsistency has been Collingwood's Achilles heel this season, but Malthouse admitted the yo-yo form might continue so long as the Magpies re-built the playing list following the departures of Nathan Buckley, James Clement and Paul Licuria last year.

Collingwood have favoured experience over youth in their only selection change, by recalling midfielder Shane O'Bree at the expense of Sharrod Wellingham to play Port Adelaide at AAMI Stadium on Friday night.

But the side charged with trying to cement a berth in finals will still contain six members to have played less than 20 games, while second-year defenders Marty Clarke and Tyson Goldsack and third-year onballers Scott Pendlebury and Dale Thomas are now key players.

Collingwood are seventh on the ladder, but on Malthouse's formguide - based on recent results - the Magpies are well down the table because last Saturday's breakthrough win over St Kilda was preceded by three defeats.

But Malthouse warned Collingwood fans to buckle up for more of what has been a rocky ride this campaign, which has included inflicting Geelong's only defeat but two losses to Carlton, currently 10th.

"We are always going to be a side that's going to be a little bit patchy because kids give you those inconsistencies," he said.

"We've been very fortunate to have two or three very good, senior players hold their consistency and I'm talking about (Shane) Wakelin and (Scott) Burns, who are our oldest players.

"But then you've got Jack Anthony, Nathan Brown, John McCarthy, Chris Dawes, Tyson Goldsack, Sharrod Wellingham...

"What are you going to get? I want to have an enthusiastic group play good football, but they are kids and they will be like that ... when you've got the inconsistency of youth you put up with it.

"It's exciting. It's fantastic when you win. I don't blame youth for losing, but the inconsistency is sometimes a factor."

After nine players made their debut for Collingwood in 2007, five have got their start this campaign.

That could swell to six in coming weeks, as Malthouse said small forward Brent Macaffer would "definitely" be elevated off the rookie list before the finals.

Friday night's round 20 opener looms as a look to the future for both clubs, as Port will unveil a new player in Matthew Westhoff, a tall forward like his brother Justin.

Port coach Mark Williams was earlier this week eager for another chapter in the sides' rivalry, but made no apologies for selecting a team to have a look at players for the future.

He also admitted Collingwood's incentive for doing well would be greater than the Power's.

"You can't manufacture anything more than that, (finals) are one of the greatest carrots in front of anyone and obviously Collingwood have got it this week and for our guys it's going to be motivationally very difficult," he said.

"We did the right thing and the best thing for our club moving forward, and that's - as bad as it might seem - the No.1 thing we have to consider, the good and the life and the continuity of the club, and you make decisions for long-term rather than short-term.

"We care that we're really competitive right now and we want to win this week."

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