Didak returns as Pies near full strength
ALAN Didak will play his first senior game of the season for Collingwood tomorrow night but Dale Thomas and Darren Jolly must wait at least one more week before helping the Pies inch closer to full strength.
Thomas trained strongly on Wednesday and was considered a likely inclusion for the clash with the Brisbane Lions at the Gabba, but football manager Geoff Walsh said last night that the club wanted to be absolutely convinced he had overcome the hamstring injury he sustained in round three. ‘‘He’s fine. We just want to give him one more week to be certain,’’ he said. ‘‘You want to err on the side of caution with hamstrings, so that’s what we’re doing.’’
Didak, who injured an adductor muscle during a February training session, has played in the VFL side’s past three games and returns to the side with youngster Paul Seedsman and Jarryd Blair, who missed one match with a leg injury.
Hawthorn’s short week forced it to leave out captain Luke Hodge for tonight’s match against Melbourne. Hodge finished last Saturday’s win over StKilda with an ice pack on his knee.
The Hawks were unable to recall Josh Gibson (ankle) and lost another defender, Jarrad Boumann, who underwent a midweek appendectomy. But after sustaining a season-ending knee injury almost 12 months ago, Stephen Gilham will return to the back line.
Hawthorn also recalled winger Clinton Young, while Melbourne replaced Lynden Dunn and Luke Tapscott, and the injured James Sellar (calf), with Ricky Petterd, Jamie Bennell and young ruckman Jack Fitzpatrick.
Gold Coast’s Gary Ablett heads a healthy list of high-profile returns, with Aaron Sandilands named in the Fremantle team after a two-week absence, Chris Judd returning to the Carlton line-up and North Melbourne placing fresh faith in Todd Goldstein.
Goldstein’s return will help the Roos stretch the Western Bulldogs in the air, with the Dogs adding Ayce Cordy and Jarrad Grant to their forward line but losing the marking strength of Liam Jones, who has back soreness.
North has named two potential debutants — Hawthorn recruit Will Sierakowski and first-round draftee Brad McKenzie — on its extended bench, and the Dogs have done likewise with draftee Daniel Pearce and pre-season draft pick Fletcher Roberts, a tall forward.
Nic Naitanui failed to make the West Coast line-up for tomorrow night’s clash with Essendon, meaning he will miss a second match, and the Eagles must also make do without the injured Adam Selwood (hand) and the suspended Ashton Hams.
Mitch Brown and debutant Ryan Neates come in against the Bombers, who named an unchanged line-up.
Michael Rischitelli and Michael Coad were also named in the Gold Coast line-up for tomorrow’s ‘‘expansion cup’’, with the Giants making five changes. Chad Cornes, Israel Folau, Jeremy Cameron, Jacob Townsend and Adam Treloar return, with Setanta O’hAilpin among those out.