Brad Johnson not certain for Pies clash - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Brad Johnson not certain for Pies clash

23/03/2010 07:54:41 PM Comments (0)

The Western Bulldogs must decide between backing Brad Johnson and his renowned durability or playing conservative over the captain's limited pre-season.

Johnson did not play any of the four practice games because of Achilles soreness, but has recovered well enough to be a chance to play Collingwood at Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

The veteran half-forward, who at 33 is poised to play his 350th career game, trained well on Monday and had pulled up well according to coach Rodney Eade.

"Fitness-wise, he'll probably be available to play so it's a matter of whether we think the training we've got into him is enough to replicate match fitness," Eade said on Tuesday.

"That's a decision that we'll make later in the week.

"We've got to take into account a whole range of issues and it will be done in conjunction with Brad and the fitness staff as well as the medical staff.

"It will be an interesting dilemma to have."

Johnson has only missed seven games since his debut and as he enters his 17th season, Eade said his fitness had improved from last week, when he was considered unlikely to start the season until round three.

The Bulldogs might opt to play Johnson in the VFL or put him through another solid training session if he did not play the Magpies.

Midfielder Nathan Eagleton (hamstring) will definitely miss the game, but forward Mitch Hahn and onballer Callan Ward (groin) are both expected to be available.

The Bulldogs will carry plenty of hype into their season opener following their win in the pre-season competition, but Eade said Collingwood were a tough first-up opponent given both sides played in preliminary finals last year.

"I know we've had the better publicity recently, but over the past few years we've been just about parallel," he said.

"We've both played in preliminary finals and whenever we've played Collingwood it's been tight.

"The two teams are very evenly matched and now they've got (ruckman Darren) Jolly and (midfielder Luke) Ball, so they're going to improve again.

"We're under no illusions they are a very good footy team."

The Bulldogs were given a lift on Tuesday by the visit of Australia's world boxing champion Danny Green, who held the players enthralled during a session in the ring with sparring partner Dominic Vea.

Green told the players dedication and preparation had been the basis for his success, but he could not coax the AFL's most famous pugilist, Barry Hall, into the ring.

"Barry has found a real home here and he's obviously very comfortable and happy and it's proven in the performances he and the team have put together," Green said.

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