Maxwell in doubt for Geelong clash - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Maxwell in doubt for Geelong clash

By Greg Buckle 12/05/2011 06:36:39 PM Comments (0)

Collingwood face a crucial decision on the fitness of skipper Nick Maxwell for their season-defining clash with Geelong.

Maxwell (general soreness) has been named in Collingwood's team for Friday's MCG clash, where a crowd of more than 80,000 is expected.

Fullback Chris Tarrant returns after being rested in the round-six game against the Western Bulldogs, while Ben Johnson is out with a back problem.

Maxwell didn't train with the Magpies on Thursday morning and premiership defender Tyson Goldsack, listed as an emergency, was a possible late inclusion.

"Nick's very confident and I don't know if we are," Collingwood coach Mick Malthouse said before the half-back completed a private fitness test on Thursday.

"We'll let him run through that (test) and, if it comes up okay, he'll be named and then he'll be assessed tomorrow morning."

The Cats have been boosted by the return of Steve Johnson and skipper Cameron Ling, although veteran forward Cam Mooney is missing because of a knee injury.

A win in Friday's heavyweight bout would leave the Magpies on target for a possible record as the first team to complete an unbeaten AFL season.

Malthouse says only a great side could achieve such a feat and his team, with only one flag in the bank, is merely good.

However Malthouse is confident the Magpies have taken steps to turn over new talent.

The continued absence of veteran Darren Jolly with a knee injury puts the heat on Cameron Wood to perform against Cats ruckman Brad Ottens.

"If Geelong run with the side that we anticipate, they've made two or three changes at best. We've made eight or nine," Malthouse said of the evolution of the two sides over the past year.

"We believe in that nine-player transition, we've been able to learn a lot more about ourselves.

"That continues on this week because we will have players who are going to be very much tested by a very good football side.

"Cameron Wood, he has stood up very well.

"It's the same with other players like (Andrew) Krakouer, like Brad Dick, like Tarrant.

"That to me is gold because it gives us another avenue to say can we stand up and have we developed our side even further from last year."

Geelong and Collingwood have claimed three of the past four premierships.

Their clashes in 2010, with the Cats winning in round nine then losing in round 19 and again in the preliminary final, caused upheaval tactically for both clubs.

"Twelve months ago, we lost a game to Geelong. We learnt a hell of a lot from it," Malthouse said.

The Cats, who had become a longer-kicking side in 2011, took some lessons from their humiliation in the preliminary final.

Triple premiership coach Malthouse said first-year Geelong mentor Chris Scott's brand of coaching must be on the right track.

"It's six from six, so it's a fairly effective brand," said Malthouse, 57.

While six of eight teams coming off the bye have lost in the following round in 2011, Malthouse says it's not an excuse he'll be using if the Magpies are over-run by the Cats.

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