Pendlebury set for stunning comeback - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Pendlebury set for stunning comeback

By Sam Lienert 17/09/2009 06:54:05 PM Comments (0)

Scott Pendlebury's stunning powers of recovery have given Collingwood an enormous boost for Saturday night's AFL preliminary final against Geelong.

The 21-year-old has been named to help take on the star-studded Cats' midfield at the MCG, a clash coming just 13 days after he fractured the fibula in his left leg early in the Magpies' qualifying final loss to St Kilda.

Geelong have also regained a gun player, clever forward Steve Johnson back for his first match since round 20, along with rugged utility Max Rooke.

St Kilda and the Western Bulldogs have both named unchanged sides for Friday night's preliminary final.

Pendlebury's return came at the expense of forward Paul Medhurst, who hit poor form at the wrong time.

Runner-up in the Magpies' best and fairest last year, Medhurst has 22 goals in 18 matches this season, but went scoreless and had just four disposals against Adelaide last Saturday night.

Ruckman Josh Fraser (knee), midfielder Dayne Beams (calf) and forward Anthony Rocca (ankle) have been left out of the side after getting injured against the Saints.

But in an intriguing hint of potential late changes, Fraser and Beams were both named as emergencies.

Pendlebury was initially given little chance of playing again this season.

He had a rod inserted into his left leg a day after the injury, but as late as Wednesday assistant coach Blake Caracella rated him a "long shot" to take on Geelong.

But football manager Geoff Walsh said Pendlebury proved himself by training solidly on Wednesday, then recovering well on Thursday.

"Obviously in the normal course of events you would expect it to be a bit longer on the sidelines," Walsh said.

"But Scott's got a wonderful history and great propensity for quick recoveries.

"He's pulled up well after yesterday's training run.

"He has to obviously get through training tomorrow, but he's meeting every challenge."

If he plays, it will be the classy left-footer's second remarkable comeback this year.

He also returned in 13 days after suffering what initially looked like a potentially season-ending knee injury against Sydney in round 12.

Johnson's comeback is welcome news for the Cats, after his season was also under threat when he struggled to play through a hip injury before undergoing surgery in Hobart in August.

The courageous Rooke returns after missing the Cats' qualifying final win over the Bulldogs with a quad injury.

Small forward Mathew Stokes is out with a groin injury, while Simon Hogan was dropped.

The Cats are as close to full strength as they have been this year.

Apart from Stokes, only defenders Josh Hunt and Matthew Egan, who have been out injured all season, are unavailable from their first-choice team.

The Saints and Dogs both opted against possible changes to their defences.

The Bulldogs had considered including Tom Williams, the tall defender having proven his recovery from a broken foot with a solid VFL performance last weekend.

But Williams, touted as a potential weapon to help combat St Kilda tall forward duo Nick Riewoldt and Justin Koschitzke, has instead been named as an emergency.

The Saints resisted calls to reinstate popular veteran defender Max Hudghton, who has not played since round 20.

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