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Malthouse's axe will fall late in week

By Sam Lienert 19/09/2010 02:58:06 PM Comments (0)

Collingwood coach Mick Malthouse will wait until late this week to dash the dreams of those players who miss out on AFL grand final selection.

The veteran of five previous grand finals as a coach - three with West Coast and two with the Magpies - admitted delaying the shattering news could increase the cruelty.

But he said it beat the alternative of potentially cutting a player, then having to reinstate him.

"My policy on telling a player who's out of the side regardless, and it doesn't have to be a final or grand final, is (do it) late," Malthouse told the Seven Network on Sunday.

"I suppose that's something you learn; a rollercoaster is the worst possible thing you can put a player on.

"If he is told that he's out of the side Monday and, for one reason or another, the player he's replacing, or someone else, is out injured, then you say `Guess what, you're back in,' now he's gone down and come back up again.

"That little bow in his mental state sometimes just doesn't equate to a good game of football.

"So I think the later you do it, it might be a little bit crueller, but ... at least a player's believing he's still up."

The Magpies, hot favourites for Saturday's season-decider against St Kilda, face several selection posers.

The most notable is whether to recall the club's oldest player, defender Simon Prestigiacomo, who has recovered from a thigh injury which has kept him out since round 20.

The 32-year-old, part of Collingwood's 2002 and 2003 losing grand sides, could take on in-form St Kilda skipper Nick Riewoldt.

But his lack of recent game time and the good form of young tall defenders Nathan Brown and Ben Reid might count against him.

Small forward Leon Davis is another possible inclusion, having been a late withdrawal with hamstring soreness against Geelong on Friday night.

Davis is expected to be fit, but Malthouse said leg problems were the injury concerns that made him most wary.

"You don't run on your lungs or on your shoulders, you run on your legs, and if you're curtailed at all you've just got to make way," he said.

That same concern hovers over midfielder Luke Ball, who left the field in the third quarter on Friday night, with what the club said was hamstring cramp.

Malthouse was confident Ball would play, but expected him to make the call himself if he could not produce his best.

"They've got to be able to give you 100 per cent and I have no doubt that he will and if he can't, he'll be the first to put his hand up. But I'm very optimistic."

Ball was part of the Saints' losing grand final side last season, before switching clubs.

The Magpies' other slight concern is potential match review panel scrutiny over a Dale Thomas front-on bump on a crouched-over Harry Taylor on Friday night.

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