Wojcinski, Ball back from injury breaks - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Wojcinski, Ball back from injury breaks

18/09/2008 07:38:23 PM Comments (0)

Geelong are confident premiership players David Wojcinski and James Kelly will not be hampered by a lack of match fitness when they return for Friday night's AFL preliminary final against the Western Bulldogs.

St Kilda midfielder Luke Ball, named to return against Hawthorn on Saturday night after a seven-week absence with a hamstring injury, faces the same issue.

Experienced running defender Wojcinski has not played an AFL game since round 15, more than two months ago, because of an Achilles tendon injury, while Cats midfielder Kelly (quad) last played in round 20.

The pair were named to replace injured pair Brent Prismall (knee) and Paul Chapman (hamstring), who both went down early in Geelong's qualifying final win over St Kilda.

Cats assistant coach Ken Hinkley admitted the lack of recent top-level matches for Wojcinski, who played two VFL games last month, and Kelly was not ideal, but they were talented enough to cope.

"(Wojcinski's) had a couple of VFL games and yeah, you'd like him to have had some other AFL game time but he hasn't had that," Hinkley said.

"It's a bit like Kel, a few weeks out, but you pick them knowing that their history says that they're good players."

Hinkley said Chapman had been close to playing, but the decision to rule him out continued the no-risk policy the club had employed all season.

"We've got players available to take their spots, but we've had that all year," he said.

"We've had Matthew Scarlett and Gary Ablett and Cameron Ling and lots of good players missing at times through the season and this is just another one of those times."

Skipper Tom Harley and half-forward Steve Johnson both left the training track early Thursday, while small forward Mathew Stokes trained only lightly, but all were named.

Forwards Ryan Gamble and Shannon Byrnes were both on the emergency list, along with defender David Johnson.

The Bulldogs named an unchanged side, with coach Rodney Eade confident gun midfielder Adam Cooney would not be hampered by illness and knee soreness, after missing training earlier this week.

"(He is) very well. He'll be right, 100 per cent," Eade said.

"He was here yesterday and had a bit of a jog yesterday, and he'll have another run this afternoon."

The inclusion of Ball, replacing injured youngster Jarryd Allen (hip), was the Saints' only change.

The courageous midfielder was also initially named a week ago, before he was a late withdrawal from the team that beat Collingwood, but his chances of playing appear much more realistic this time.

Coach Ross Lyon said the tough ball-winner was someone who could cope with the intensity of a preliminary final despite his long stint on the sidelines.

"He's a very talented player Luke, isn't he? Best and fairest winner, All Australian, 100-clearance man - if anyone can do it, I think Luke can," Lyon said.

The Hawks' only change was the inclusion of young midfielder Xavier Ellis, who was a regular before being dropped for the qualifying final win over the Bulldogs.

He replaced small forward Cameron Stokes, forced out by hamstring tightness.

Midfielder Chance Bateman, who rolled his ankle at training on Tuesday, and key defender Trent Croad, who hurt his foot against the Bulldogs, both kept their spots.

Fellow tall defender Stephen Gilham was named as an emergency, despite having played all 22 home and away games, before being a late withdrawal from the qualifying final with a virus.

Six-game ruckman Brent Renouf, who came into the side when Simon Taylor was rested in the final home and away round, maintained his spot.

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