IN-FORM North Warrnambool Eagles are searching for a midfield replacement after assistant coach Tim Sheldon’s season was cut short yesterday.
Sheldon has been ruled out of Saturday’s preliminary final showdown with Cobden after suffering a broken thumb in the first semi-final victory over Camperdown on Sunday.
Coach David Haynes said Sheldon underwent surgery on his left thumb yesterday afternoon, giving him no chance to play again this season.
Haynes revealed Sheldon would have missed Saturday’s preliminary final regardless of the injury because he had plans to attend an overseas wedding. He would have returned in time for the grand final, if the Eagles made it.
“He’s a bit disappointed,” Haynes said.
“But that’s footy.”
It is heartbreaking for Sheldon, who missed the 2010 season with Port Fairy after suffering a serious neck injury in a pre-season match that threatened his career.
He switched to the Eagles last season as an assistant coach as he rediscovered his touch. Sheldon has blossomed this season with a full pre-season under his belt, playing significant roles in the midfield, highlighted by his two goals and plenty of possessions in the Eagles’ elimination final win over Koroit two weeks ago.
“He’s been playing good footy,” Haynes said.
Sheldon becomes the fourth big name to succumb to injury for the Eagles this season.
He joins former Port Fairy teammate Herb Barlow (broken angle and leg), vice-captain Matthew Wines (neck) and forward Mat Buck (knee reconstruction) on the sidelines.
While Barlow’s injury happened mid-season, Wines (round 17) and Buck (elimination final) were laid low recently.
Haynes said the Eagles had depth and, with their under 18s and reserves still involved in finals, he and selectors had a big decision to make.
Midfielder Matt Brophy, who suffered an elbow injury during Sunday’s 62-point win over the Magpies, is expected to be fit to play in Saturday’s big match at Warrnambool’s Reid Oval.
Cobden coach Wayne Robertson said the Bombers had no injury concerns after Saturday’s 13-point second semi-final loss to minor premier Warrnambool.