Collingwood has moved to ease fears of Alan Didak missing Friday night’s preliminary final, revealing the dangerous small forward completed a secret session indoors, instead of training with the rest of his teammates.
Didak was a notable absentee from today’s main training session at Gosch’s Paddock, raising alarm among supporters that his lingering calf injury sustained last week would force him out of the showdown against Sydney at ANZ Stadium.
Footy Fix: preliminary finals
Rohan Connolly previews this weekend's two preliminary finals from the Collingwood training grounds.
While Didak was being closely monitored indoors this morning, fellow injured teammate Chris Dawes was creating optimism that he will overcome a knee injury in time to help fellow ruckman Darren Jolly in what was is looming as a pivotal ruck duel against Shane Mumford and Mike Pyke.
Dawes has a ‘‘grade-half medial strain’’, the club confirmed, but seemed to move relatively freely as he completed the full session, especially considering how hampered he appeared at recovery yesterday.
Both players remain in contention to play, but could yet be named tomorrow and then tested again during a final session in Sydney on Friday.
‘‘We will give him [Didak] every opportunity to prove his fitness and it was felt that, at this stage, a closely monitored session indoors at the Westpac Centre was the best thing for him,’’ director of football Geoff Walsh said.
‘‘So far, Alan has completed everything the physios, doctors and fitness staff have asked him to do and he remains in consideration for the preliminary final,’’ he said.
So hard is Dawes to replace that Collingwood senior assistant Rodney Eade said the coaching staff would strongly consider playing the key forward-relief ruckman even if he wasn’t 100 per cent fit, providing he could handle the pain.
‘‘Unless he got another knock the same way, he’s not going to do any more damage so that’s what the medical staff take into account. But I think it’s more about the function of the leg and how he can perform,’’ Eade said.
‘‘Finals time is an interesting one isn’t it? You have the debate every year, every club about whether you take injured players in and sometimes the name overrides the injury and we go with that,’’ he said.
‘‘But Chris plays a really important role so if he’s anywhere near 100 per cent, like 90 per cent, and he can function OK, I think we’ll play him.’’
Dawes seemed largely unrestricted throughout the light session and wore black leggings to cover any strapping.
He led strongly and worked over the right knee with some leaps on the marking bag towards the end of the session. He was also put through a brief one-on-one with coach Nathan Buckley, who spent time kicking with Dawes and testing out his sideways movement.
Eade said he didn’t believe Dawes would train with a pain-killing injection, but admitted he might use the method come game day.
The Pies head to Sorrento tomorrow to attend the funeral of former teammate John McCarthy, and will then fly to Sydney later in the afternoon.
Small forward Ben Sinclair could be a possible replacement for Didak, who was subbed out of Saturday night's win against West Coast after copping a knock to the calf.
Eade said the Pies only had two viable option should Dawes not play - play reserve ruckman Cameron Wood or bring in young key forward Jackson Paine and then find someone, such as Tyson Goldsack or Nathan Brown, to support Jolly in small bursts.