Magpies ace Thomas set to return for Lions clash
Coming back: Collingwood's Dale Thomas. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
DALE Thomas is on track to make his return to Collingwood’s team at the Gabba on Saturday.
The All-Australian midfielder completed another full session of training with the Magpies yesterday and is expected to be named to play the Lions unless he suffers ill-effects this morning.
Collingwood’s director of football, Geoff Walsh, said Thomas was impressive at training yesterday.
‘‘He did everything that was asked of him,’’ said Walsh. ‘‘The doctors and physios set a level that they wanted him to reach and he got to those levels.’’
Thomas tweaked a hamstring in Collingwood’s round-three defeat by Carlton and has missed three matches, completing the standard recovery from the most common of AFL injuries. The setback continued the tone of a moderate start to the season after a brilliant 2011 for Thomas.
The good news for head coach Nathan Buckley was that the club did not drop a game in his absence.
Walsh said all that remained was to see how Thomas felt today. ‘‘We’d like to see how he pulls up.’’
The Magpies have to find a replacement for Ben Johnson (shoulder), who will be absent for the longer-term after surgery this week.
But Thomas, Jarryd Blair (leg) and Darren Jolly (knee) are all in the mix along with Alan Didak, who has played three matches in the VFL.
Defender Chris Tarrant (calf) is close to resuming in the VFL.
Brisbane are sitting 2-4, with wins over lowly Melbourne and Gold Coast, but Lions vice-captain Jed Adcock said Collingwood would bring out the best in them.
‘‘We’ve performed pretty well and matched up well against them in the (recent) past,’’ the defender said. ‘‘Obviously, there’s been a great rivalry since the premiership years.’’
Adcock said there was no lack of effort by the Lions but poor execution was letting them down.
‘‘The problem maybe is that when the pressure is being put on us, we’ve fallen away a bit,’’ he said. ‘‘We feel the effort is there, but we just haven’t been able to capitalise on the work we do.’’
Fellow vice-captain Tom Rockliff missed yesterday’s training session due to illness but is expected to line up.
Meanwhile, West Coast pair Nic Naitanui and Adam Selwood are confident they can recover in time for Saturday night’s clash with Essendon at Etihad Stadium. Naitanui was a late withdrawal last week due to a hamstring complaint, while Selwood suffered split webbing in a hand.
‘‘They’re both very keen to play,’’ Eagles coach John Worsfold said yesterday. ‘‘Their track record would say they’re both a really good chance if they think they’re in that position.’’
The Eagles will be without at least seven first-choice players. Josh Kennedy (ankle), Mark LeCras (knee), Mark Nicoski (hamstring), Ash Smith (ankle) and Andrew Embley (shoulder) are injured, while Will Schofield and Ashton Hams are suspended.