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Pendlebury close to return for Magpies

By Adam Cooper 30/06/2009 05:35:34 PM Comments (0)

Collingwood remain hopeful midfielder Scott Pendlebury can make a speedy return to the AFL, but they have a new worry with veteran Anthony Rocca's troublesome ankle.

Pendlebury is aiming to return from the knee strain he suffered against Sydney on June 20 in time for Friday night's blockbuster against Essendon at the MCG.

The onballer stepped away from the main training session on Tuesday so club doctor Andrew Jowett could assess his movement and ability to quickly change direction.

Teammate Paul Medhurst said Pendlebury was a good chance to play the Bombers.

"He's been on a program to give him the best possible chance to play this week," Medhurst said.

While Pendlebury has made a quicker recovery from his injury than expected, Rocca has suffered another setback in his bid to play again, this time an Achilles injury.

Rocca, 31, has played only three AFL games this season, but none since round seven.

He played in the VFL on June 13 in the first step in his plan to return from an ankle injury but has since experienced pain in the Achilles tendon.

The Magpies say the big forward could be sidelined for at least three weeks, another blow to his chances of returning and making an impact before the finals.

Rocca, who is out of contract at the end of the season, has had a history of ankle troubles.

His fellow forward Medhurst said the Magpies hoped Rocca could still play a major part in 2009.

"He's really professional, he'll give himself every possible chance to get back out there and so will we as a player group," Medhurst said.

"We want him out there with us because he's been such a quality player for so long, so I think we'll see him back at some stage."

Medhurst himself is no stranger to ankle troubles, as the 2008 All-Australian has only just returned to the Collingwood side after he was injured in round five and battled to force his way back in.

He hoped the seven games he missed would help him stay fresher for longer and play a key role in the lead-up to the finals.

"I'd like to think so, I'm getting a little bit older (27) now, so there's a few different areas of my body that were getting a rest, but I'm desperate to get out there hopefully again on Friday night."

The Magpies expect midfielder Leon Davis - whose illness granted Medhurst a return against Fremantle last Saturday - to play the Bombers.

That match will start a testing period for Collingwood, who have this year beaten just one side - the Brisbane Lions - currently inside the eight.

They also have the Bulldogs, Hawthorn, Carlton, the Lions and Adelaide to come.

"We can only beat who we're up against, but I suppose our next four weeks are really tough opposition," Medhurst said.

"It's going to give us and our opposition a really good gauge on where we're at."

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