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Cousins comeback at Subiaco 'unlikely'

By Sam Lienert 14/01/2009 04:14:26 PM Comments (0)

Ben Cousins is unlikely to return to Subiaco Oval for the opening round of the NAB Cup, but another West Australian midfielder out to revive his career is on track for a Richmond comeback that night.

Tigers assistant coach Brian Royal said it would be a surprise if former West Coast star Cousins, working his way back to full fitness, was included for the February 15 clash with Fremantle at Subiaco.

But Richmond's 2003 best and fairest, 26-year-old Mark Coughlan, whose injuries have prevented him from playing a home and away game since mid-2006, is a good chance to line up.

"He's going fantastic, he's actually surprised us how well he's going and he's certainly in contention for NAB (Cup round) one," Royal said on Wednesday.

Coughlan had back-to-back knee reconstructions in the 2006 season and 2007 pre-season, then had his comeback attempt last year thwarted by repeated hamstring injuries.

But after making it through several VFL games late in 2008, he has not missed a beat in the current pre-season.

Royal said Cousins was also in solid shape, but with the 30-year-old having been out of the game for the best part of two years, he needed to build his workload gradually.

"From our point of view it's just trying to pull him back, he's really keen, he wants to do everything 100 per cent," Royal said.

"We're just mindful that he's missed a fair bit of footy over the last year and a half, that we don't rush him back and he gets an injury because of that."

The Tigers plan to field a strong side in the pre-season competition, with star midfielder Brett Deledio one player keen for some early year success.

"The last four years that I've been here we haven't gone past the first round, so I'd like to have a little go at the second one, I think it would make a good statement," Deledio said.

The 21-year-old said he had already benefited from Cousins' presence.

"We've had a couple of little chats as a midfield group moreso than anything else and he's had a couple of really good things to say," Deledio said.

"I've learnt a few little tips off him, none that I want to disclose at the moment so I keep them up my sleeve."

The Tigers are in good shape injury-wise, with forward Kayne Pettifer, on the comeback from a knee injury, and youngsters Trent Cotchin and Daniel Connors, who have calf/achilles soreness, the only restricted players.

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