HAMPDEN’S interleague squad got a big boost yesterday, with 2010 Maskell Medal winner Levi Dare given the green light to represent the league in Sunday’s showdown with Ovens and Murray at Princes Park.
Dare, who is contracted with VFL side North Ballarat, has been playing with his home club of Cobden for the past five weeks after being granted a leave of absence.
Hampden coach Nick O’Sullivan, who has been worried about a lack of height, said North Ballarat and Cobden had given Dare permission to play for the Bottle Greens on Sunday.
Dare’s inclusion in a 29-man squad, which will train tonight at Warrnambool’s Reid Oval, came after selectors received more good news.
Key defender Sam “Moo” Cowling and star teenage forward Sam Dobson, ruled out last week with injuries, are back in contention.
Coach Nick O’Sullivan said Cowling yesterday morning reported he had pulled up well after his significant role at full-back in keeping North Warrnambool Eagles star David Haynes to two goals in the Blues’ 35-point win on Sunday.
It was Cowling’s first game in three weeks after struggling with a groin injury.
“I thought Moo did a really good job against Haynes,” he said. “I rang him this morning and he said he has pulled up a lot better than he has been, so he is still a chance.”
Haynes, despite playing on Sunday, isn’t in contention, revealing he hadn’t trained for a month because of his painful left ankle complaint.
O’Sullivan said Dobson, who suffered a knee injury at club training last week, had his ailment reassessed as a one-week injury, meaning he will push for selection tonight and Thursday night.
And the news got even better for O’Sullivan, with last year’s vice-captain Damian O’Connor declaring himself right to play. The Terang Mortlake prime mover, who suffered a groin injury in round five, was a late withdrawal from the Bloods’ side on Saturday.
O’Sullivan said his side’s preparation was on par with last year after the positive developments.
“It doesn’t look too bad now,” he said.
He said his only concern was speed.
“I’m a little bit concerned we don’t go in too tall. I need some pace in the forward line.”
The only downside for selectors was a knee injury to Camperdown midfielder Luke Mahony, who went down in the second term of Saturday’s game against Cobden.