TERANG Mortlake will be without Chris Baxter for its must-win clash against Warrnambool after the star defender was called up to make his VFL debut.
Baxter was named in North Ballarat Roosters’ side for its clash against Footscray on Sunday.
The Hampden interleague representative will play alongside North Melbourne captain Andrew Swallow, who is progressing in his comeback from a serious Achilles injury.
Baxter was selected after impressive performances for the Bloods, including a strong negating role on boom Port Fairy recruit Jaxson Barham last weekend.
Terang Mortlake coach Matthew Irving said Baxter deserved his opportunity at VFL level after joining the Gerard FitzGerald-coached Roosters in the off season.
“It’s great for him but we wouldn’t mind him for one more week against Warrnambool,” he joked.
“But that’s the selfish look.”
The Bloods also lost Tom McKenzie, who is expected to miss between four and six weeks with a broken cheekbone.
McKenzie was concussed in Terang Mortlake’s 36-point win against Port Fairy last weekend and scans later revealed a fracture.
Tom Arundell and Damian Moloney were elevated from the reserves.
Ladder-leading Warrnam-bool welcomed back key-position player Sam Cowling for the suspended John Paulin.
Blues coach Scott Carter said the team would train tonight, opting to have Thursday off for the final day of the May Racing Carnival.
“We think when you live in the town of Warrnambool it is part of life,” Carter said yesterday.
“I think our boys are responsible enough to have a good day today and play well Saturday.”
Carter said Warrnambool was nearly at full strength and positions for spots would be hotly contested in coming weeks.
“We are pretty settled and we’re starting to get a few players back too,” he said.
“Brad Bull is two weeks away and he is doing ball work at training and Liam Hoy is back in the under 18s.
“It’s good, it’s given us a lot of depth.”
Unbeaten Cobden made three forced changes for its crucial clash with North Warrnambool Eagles.
Christian Koroneos (suspension), Chris Paatsch (unavailable) and Jake Evans (broken arm) will miss.
It named an extended interchange bench with teenagers Dominic Dare and Louis Robertson in line for their senior debuts.
Dare is coming off a 10-goal haul in the under 18½ competition.
North Warrnambool Eagles will be without midfielder Andy McMeel through suspension, while Jeremy Bidmade, Luke Wines and Lachie Woodhams were omitted.
Skipper Tom Batten and forward duo Jeremy Parkinson and Michael Darmody return and Ararat recruit Nick Maddison will make his Eagles’ debut.
Maddison is a former Ararat skipper and will fill a role in defence.
Eagles onballer Dean Gavin and defender Xavier Mills passed fitness tests at training.
Portland, which plays South Warrnambool, has lost teenage forward Jay Moody for the entire season with a finger injury.
Tigers coach Jake Myles said the creative goal sneak was a player of the future.
“We thought he sprained a finger against Port Fairy and we thought he’d just jarred it but he saw the surgeon throughout the week and he’s done a tendon,” Myles said.
“Everyone talks about our goalkicking potential and he is hard to match up on.
“He’s definitely a loss for us. The kid has done everything right, he’s only 17 years old.
“It’s disappointing for him but in saying that someone else gets an opportunity.”
South Warrnambool forward Kym Eagleson is among six additions to the Roosters’ side for its clash against Portland.
Exciting teenager Kyden Jarvis was named to make his senior debut.
Koroit named former Edenhope-Apsley player Taylor Mulraney on an extended bench for its match with winless Camperdown, which will go in unchanged.
Hamilton Kangaroos and Port Fairy named extended squads for their Sunday clash at Melville Oval.