It's a juggling act: Malthouse - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

It's a juggling act: Malthouse

Robert Grant 28/07/2011 03:54:19 PM Comments (0)

Collingwood coach Mick Malthouse is about to embark on the most delicate balancing act he has had to perform in the AFL for years.

Faced with an overload of star players needing games and others requiring a rest, Malthouse is trying to plot a course to ensure his best possible line-up is in peak form for September.

Among his concerns is how to get Heath Shaw match-fit ahead of the AFL finals after the defender was banned for the remainder of the home-and-away season over a betting incident.

However Malthouse boldly predicted Shaw would be trained up to the minute and would be a force in the finals series despite a lack of match conditioning.

Malthouse also needs a plan on how to manage the return of injured pair Alan Didak and Chris Dawes to the senior side.

Malthouse said Collingwood had similar issues last year before going on to win the premiership.

"With six home-and-away games to go it becomes a balancing act and we know we're in certainly one final, maybe two finals at least, because of the number of wins we've had," Malthouse said on Thursday.

"We're looking at eight weeks and we've got to introduce Chris Dawes, Alan Toovey, Heath Shaw, Alan Didak, Dayne Beams ... players who have been out for multiple weeks.

"If we get injuries we want to be able to introduce these players very quickly to get games into them.

"It's really man-management at the moment."

Malthouse said the coming six weeks would be "the biggest I can remember for a long time going into a finals series".

He said the Magpies would leave a decision on star midfielder Dale Thomas, who suffered a corked thigh in the game last week against Gold Coast, until the last minute.

"We won't be taking a risk with him," he said.

Malthouse said the situation with Didak and Dawes, who have been out for up to six weeks, was becoming urgent.

He said introducing new players also needed to be done without disrupting the ability and confidence of the current side.

He said players on the sidelines, though, needed to be given the chance to prove they should be a part of the Magpies' finals campaign.

Shaw, he said, had a "natural fitness" but would be carrying a heavy training load up until the finals in lieu of playing.

"But he will be praying for the eight weeks to finish very quickly because you cannot belt him like we're going to belt him," he said.

"He doubles up and triples up all the training and spends time on bikes and doing all sorts of things.

"Anything we can get and we can find we give him - we've invented things for him.

"You need games of football but Heath's one of these blokes who will jump straight in. He's not going to be a player who needs super touch," Malthouse said.

"Some players can be suspended like this and still get their touch but they miss the body contact. He won't miss that.

"I predict that he will be ready to go when the time comes."

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