WDFNL TEAMS | Nirranda, Merrivale are bolstered and hit by returns and injuries

TRUE LEADER: Nirranda's Peter McDowall kicks along the boundary. He will return from a serious shoulder injury this week. Picture: Amy Paton

TRUE LEADER: Nirranda's Peter McDowall kicks along the boundary. He will return from a serious shoulder injury this week. Picture: Amy Paton

PREMIERSHIP captain Peter McDowall has conquered a long-term shoulder complaint to emerge as a surprise inclusion for Nirranda.

The battling midfielder hasn’t played since June after injuring his AC joint.

Blues co-coach Shane Threlfall said the leader was a welcome inclusion leading into finals.

“He’s one of our better players. Apart from his playing ability, his leadership is first-class,” Threlfall said.

“The boys are rapt to have him back.”

The Blues have also re-gained Cam Williams and star midfielder John Paulin, who was a late withdrawal with a niggling injury last week.

Damian Moloney, however, will miss with a minor injury.

Merrivale is feeling the wrath of injuries on the eve of finals, with several key players sidelined for its clash against Russells Creek.

Playing coach Jason Rowan has been withdrawn, while Rhys Raymond (ankle), captain Josh Sobey, James Preston and Sean Barnes will also miss.

The Tigers, preparing for an elimination final against Timboon Demons in a fortnight, are racing against the clock to ensure they can field a full-strength side.

“We’ve managed to get Sam and Jack Gleeson back this week, which is great,” assistant coach Matt Brown said.

“Karl Dwyer and Josh Guiney will also come back in. (The inclusions) are probably a bit underdone before finals but its tough when you’ve had so many ins and outs.

Finals dark horse Timboon Demons has named Melbourne-based James Plant after the defender made a successful return through reserves last Saturday.

He has replaced mainstay Ben Newey, who is suffering from soreness.

Old Collegians, who could sew up the minor premiership with a triumph on Saturday, has re-gained defender Daryl Beechey.

Josh Reichman has also gifted opportunities to Joe Kenna and Jacob Brooks, but has lost assistant coach Andrew McCartney (shoulder) and Bodie Hibberson.

“We’re hoping Andrew’s injury is just minor. Joey Kenna was dropped last week but he was probably a bit unlucky,” Reichman said.

“Joey has had a good week on the track and has put his hand up for selection.”

East Warrnambool’s cause will be bolstered by the return of former VFL-listed talent Shannon Turner, while Jason Delany drops out.

Russells Creek midfielder Andy McMeel is expected to make his return, while Latrell Campbell, Bradley Rees, Matthew Rook and Harley James are also back.

Promising Creek utility Christopher Robertson has dropped out.

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