Magpies coach says Maxwell flying - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Magpies coach says Maxwell flying

By Greg Buckle 01/09/2011 09:16:44 PM Comments (0)

Collingwood coach Mick Malthouse says skipper Nick Maxwell is "miles in front" in his recovery from thumb surgery and narrowly missed selection to play Geelong.

The AFL's competition leaders host the Cats at the MCG on Friday night in a last-round clash which won't alter both teams' assignments for the first week of the finals.

Geelong will play Hawthorn in a battle of second versus third and Malthouse's Magpies will host fourth-placed West Coast in the qualifying finals.

Maxwell, who was injured in round 21, didn't train with the Magpies on Thursday and will miss a third consecutive game.

But the premiership captain will play in a practice match on Friday.

"How close are we? He won't play (Friday) night but he's one or two days off, that's all," Malthouse said on Thursday.

Geelong coach Chris Scott has labelled Friday night's clash as "fantastic match practice" and Malthouse is also taking a big-picture approach.

"We see every game very much like that. We don't look at the scoreboard, we look at the process," Malthouse said.

"He (Scott) is looking at process and so are we."

The Magpies on Thursday regained Luke Ball, Sharrod Wellingham and Chris Tarrant from injury, while Leon Davis has been left out with a hamstring strain, Dale Thomas is suspended and Tom Young has been omitted.

The fitness of Davis, who's in potential All-Australian form in defence, could be a concern for next week's qualifying final.

Geelong have recalled veteran defender Darren Milburn and Mitch Duncan, resisting the urge to bring back key forward Cam Mooney from suspension.

Cats defender Tom Lonergan is out with a thigh injury while small forward Shannon Byrnes has been dropped.

Attention is already turning to next week's start of the finals series, when Collingwood will regain star half-back Heath Shaw after an eight-week gambling ban, with Maxwell also expected to return.

"People have said it will take seven weeks and, whatever I think, it's such an individual thing," Malthouse said of Maxwell's powers of recovery.

"Some people can put up with the inconvenience but I'm also very mindful of the fact where he plays.

"I know (ex-Essendon forward) Matthew Lloyd said it took him seven weeks.

"Well, he was a hard-leading player who has to catch the thing first-up, otherwise it just gets punched away from him.

"Nick is a little bit different. He plays at the other end of the ground.

"He can form a fist, he can punch the ball.

"We've just got to make sure we're right in our own mind and in his mind. I'm pretty sure the surgeon will be okay about it."

Collingwood's only loss in the first 23 rounds was to Geelong by three points on May 13.

Malthouse said Collingwood's finals campaign would not be derailed by another narrow loss to the Cats.

"You can say yes (it's vital to win on Friday night). History will say no," Malthouse said.

"There's plenty of scenarios that can take place.

"You can't flirt with form. Players will still get their chances.

"We'd like to think we've got 28, 29, maybe 30 players in contention for the first final.

"Every player who wears the jumper tomorrow night will be able to stake a claim for it."

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