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Magpies hope Rocca is ready next weekend

15/03/2009 07:08:54 PM Comments (0)

Collingwood are yet to decide whether to give Anthony Rocca a reserves hitout next weekend ahead of the opening round of the AFL regular season.

Rocca has not played during the pre-season as he recovers from leg injuries and the Magpies are being careful with the 31-year-old, the oldest player on their list.

Ankle problems meant he only managed eight games last season and none after round 13.

They would have to gain AFL permission to play him in the VFL in the rest week before round one.

But given he has not played for so long, that should be a formality.

"'Pebbles' has been up and running for a few weeks and training with the (main) group," said midfielder Tarkyn Lockyer.

"I'd expect, hopefully, to see him running around in the reserves this weekend.

"If all goes well, he should be available for round one.

"It would be good for him and good for the club to have him back."

At his best, Rocca is one of the game's most valuable key forwards, but his injury problems and age mean he is an unknown quantity heading into this year.

Ruckman Josh Fraser and defender Heath Shaw missed Friday night's NAB Cup grand final disaster, but they should be ready for the season opener on March 28 against Adelaide.

Key defender Harry O'Brien is on indefinite leave following the death of his stepfather.

The Magpies remain upbeat despite the 76-point loss to the Cats, with Lockyer echoing the post-match sentiments of assistant coach Brad Scott.

Lockyer and Scott say the `Pies have enjoyed a solid pre-season and are in good physical shape.

Newcomers Steele Sidebottom and Dayne Beams are staking claims for round-one senior debuts, meaning some potential selection dilemmas.

"The match committee, fortunately for us, has got a pretty tough job," Lockyer said.

"We've got a lot of guys up and running and available for selection, it's a pretty good problem to have."

Lockyer has also enjoyed the bullish talk from club president Eddie McGuire, who has declared the Magpies are now definitely aiming for the premiership.

Collingwood have a young side that lacks big names compared to heavy-hitters such as Geelong and Hawthorn.

But they have made the finals for the last three years and feel they can realistically push for the top four.

"I love the fact that we aim high and Eddie certainly does put a lot of pressure on himself and the football club," Lockyer said.

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