MERRIVALE will be close to full strength for its Warrnambool and District league Sunday showdown against Panmure at Merrivale Recreation Reserve.
The Tigers enjoyed welcome relief at the selection table last night, adding four top-line players to the side which thrashed Deakin University last round.
Utility Todd McLean is the pick. McLean, plagued by back issues, has not played seniors all season but has found fitness in the reserves the past fortnight.
Ruckman Rhys Raymond, onballer Josh Sobey and coach Karl Dwyer also return from injury, raising hope of an upset win in front of an expected big crowd.
Nathan Crute, Claye Cassidy, Jarrod Petherick and Matthew Peake, who injured a hamstring for a second time last weekend, make way.
Dwyer said the returnees were a case of good timing rather than any plan for the first-versus-second clash.
“Sobes is legit, we put a bit of pressure on him to play last week because we wanted to get a full side together but he needed another week,” he said.
“I’m a bit the same, the knee has been blowing up. And Todd, we were always going to give him two in the ressies. It’s just good timing more than anything.”
Opponent Panmure made the one change, losing Shaun Griffin due to concussion midweek and including Michael Payne.
Allansford faces the task of completing a season double against fierce rival Nirranda without three first-choice onballers. Nick Johnstone (shin splints), Leatham Robe (knee) and Sam Holloway (collarbone) will miss the crunch clash at Allansford Recreation Reserve.
The Cats were also waiting on the fitness of three others, naming a seven-man bench for their final home match.
Nathan Wilson, Jason Wilson and Tom Loughnan were among seven inclusions.
Nirranda made two changes, including coach Aidan Cole and Josh Irving for Marcus Roberts and Chris Haberfield.
Timboon Demons regained onballers Luke Davison and Dylan Cahill among five changes for their match against Russells Creek at Timboon Recreation Reserve.
The pair, sorely missed during the Demons’ defeat to South Rovers, will add strength and class to a side keen for some late-season joy. Cody Noonan and Neil Gowland are also back while Dean Whitehead and Josh Walker are among the omissions.
Russells Creek will also field a stronger side than last weekend, regaining experience in the form of Shaun McDougall, coach Jay Everall and Damian Osborne. Teenager Paddy O’Brien, who will miss the rest of the season due to a holiday, is the biggest out.
Darcy Lewis and Andrew Niklaus are welcome returnees for Dennington as it eyes victory against Kolora-Noorat at Noorat Recreation Reserve.
The Dogs have been managing the pair in the hope of having them at peak fitness for finals. Jacob Morris is also back, reinforcing the defensive stocks. John Vincent, Sam Curtis and Jesse Lewis are omitted after helping the side thrash Russells Creek, with coach Ben Parkinson labeling them “really unlucky”.
Kolora-Noorat named an unchanged side.
South Rovers lost Adam Payne to unavailability but regained Tom Hirst for their match against Deakin University at Walter Oval.
Deakin University enjoyed better fortune, regaining key forward James Crawford and ball carriers Brent Astle, Liam Turner and Matt Lenehan.
But Lachlan Hulands is unavailable, robbing the Sharks of a key tall in defence or attack.
And Old Collegians faces East Warrnambool without onballers Eli Barker and Matt Lynch, although the Warriors are confident they will only miss a week.
Jacob Lacy and Matthew Petherick come into the side.
East Warrnambool made three changes, losing Simon Tindall, Jonah Hughson and Ben Gray but regaining Peter Shepherd, Jacob Taylor and Danny Ferrier.