THIRD-placed North Warr-nambool Eagles face tough selection issues tomorrow night with three late withdrawals all expected to return for Saturday’s showdown against second-placed Koroit.
After being injury ravaged for much of the season, the Eagles at last find themselves with “good” selection headaches ahead of the season-defining clash.
The Eagles, which haven’t beaten either Warrnambool or Koroit, which are above them, have to win on Saturday to remain a game clear of fourth-placed Portland if they want to claim the finals double-chance.
Quality forward Jeremy Parkinson, prolific ball-winner Andy McMeel and fellow midfielder Jye Bidmade will all be available, according to coach Bernard Moloney.
He said the Eagles had left Parkinson and McMeel out of Saturday’s 100-point win over Cobden because of hamstring tightness while Bidmade was suffering from a virus.
“It was precautionary more than anything with Parkinson and McMeel,” he said.
Moloney welcomed the tough decisions after the club’s horror run with injuries.
“If you get to this time of the year and you have got these problems it means you have some depth and that’s a good thing,” he said. “It’s a lot tougher making a decision of who you are going to bring up when you have all the injuries.”
Moloney said the Eagles needed to step up against the Saints.
“It’s all about backing up (Saturday’s win) now,” he said.
“They smashed us in the first quarter last time we played them. Their zone defence was so strong we just couldn’t get through it in the first quarter at Koroit, they kicked a score and we couldn’t get hold of the ball.”
Koroit coach Adam Dowie has to find a replacement for midfielder Ben Walsh, who played the past two games with the Saints after returning from Western Australia on holidays.
Walsh, who was important in the Saints’ midfield last season before shifting to Perth, has been a handy replacement for another key figure in midfielder Brett Harrington, who is overseas.
Dowie said he was excited about the Saints’ next month, starting with the Eagles game at Bushfield. They then face Warrnambool in a potential top-spot shootout the next week, then tricky away games against Cobden and Terang Mortlake before a final-round clash with fourth-placed Portland.