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Magpies not carrying any '50-50 players'

11/09/2009 04:31:10 PM Comments (0)

Collingwood coach Mick Malthouse has challenged his under-performing stars to find their sparkle to beat a surging Adelaide side in Saturday night's AFL semi-final at the MCG.

The form of match-winners Leon Davis, Alan Didak and Dane Swan has gone the same way as their side in a fortnight, to the point the Magpies were equal premiership favourite after round 21 but are now focused on avoiding a straight-sets exit from the finals.

Collingwood enter the sudden-death game off a shorter break, without four injured key players and against a red-hot opponent that have won their past three games by an average of 80 points.

Malthouse said he was comfortable with his side, as it had no question marks over players, and the inclusions were in good form and knew what was needed to beat the Crows.

But he reminded his impact players they could not afford to let their slides continue.

"Is it the third week, fourth week, fifth week? I don't accept any weeks," he said on Friday.

"I don't think you have to run through a certain amount of weeks to be able to say `I'm due for a good one', because that's not the case.

"You've just got to be a constant performer, if your form's down there's no `Oh well, I'll get back in a couple of weeks'.

"The next week is the most important week."

Swan, Didak and Davis have enjoyed great individual seasons, but have been comprehensively down in their past few games.

Swan averaged 33 disposals a game to the round-21 clash against Sydney, but has averaged just 22 in his past three games.

Davis' spark has also dimmed in his past three while Didak was completely negated by St Kilda tagger Clinton Jones last Sunday.

The trio can expect to be tagged at some point by Crows Michael Doughty and Robert Shirley and have the added responsibility of covering for injured clearance players Scott Pendlebury (leg) and Dayne Beams (calf).

But Malthouse believed it was not all bad news for the Pies.

He saw encouraging signs in the qualifying final loss to St Kilda, who won by 28 points despite a landslide possession count.

"We didn't score 13 goals - we scored seven - so we were well short of the 13 required, but it wasn't the worst game we've played," he said.

"I think sometimes we get caught up in other people's assessments that we're supposed to be equal favourites.

"That doesn't cut any ice with us whatsoever."

He remained confident the players brought in to replace Pendlebury, Beams, Josh Fraser (knee), Anthony Rocca (ankle) and John McCarthy (dropped) were fit, confident and capable of again matching it with the Crows.

Collingwood have won three of the past four games between the sides and were particularly impressive in round 19, but lost by four points when the sides met on the MCG in round one.

"We'll miss the (sidelined) players," Malthouse said.

"But one of our assets this year has been the evenness of the side and the ability of our VFL side to keep producing players with confidence and the ability to win the footy, so that's what we've gone to.

"The group that goes down the race will be extremely fit.

"We have a thorough knowledge of how good Adelaide are and what needs to be done.

"Can we meet that requirement? Well that will have to be seen."

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