NORTH Warrnambool Eagles' premiership quest has received a boost with former AFL midfielder Michael Barlow picked for Saturday's preliminary final against Warrnambool.
The ex-Docker and Sun became available for Hampden league selection after Werribee bowed out of the VFL finals race last weekend.
Barlow has played two games for the Adam Dowie-coached Eagles in 2019, both against Hamilton Kangaroos.
"He's in and ready to go. The two times he played for us during the year we had limits on how much game time he could have but now there are no limits," Dowie said.
"But he is only one player. We know there is a fair bit of interest about him but how the other 20 go will have more of an effect on the game."
Barlow earned VFL team of the year selection despite playing only 13 matches for the Tigers due to injury.
The ball winner was named in Werribee's best seven times.
Barlow, 31, posted a tribute to the Tigers on his Twitter page earlier this week.
"2019...the most fulfilling and stimulating on a personal level for some time," it read.
"Werribee is proud to have the JJ Liston Medallist in Tom Gribble and Fothergill Round Mitchell Medallist in Jake Riccardi.
"(I'm a) proud coach and teammate of all involved."
The Eagles also picked promising teenager Jackson Couch for the clash at Friendly Societies' Park.
Dowie said he deserved his recall and was picked for his running ability.
"He played pretty well against Warrnambool at the Reid Oval (earlier this season)," he said. "He took a speccy and kicked a pretty important goal."
Warrnambool's defence could receive a boost with full-back Will Jacobs named in the Blues' extended squad.
Jacobs, one of the Blues' most consistent and reliable players this season, has been sidelined since picking up a hamstring injury against South Warrnambool in round 17.
Warrnambool coach Matt O'Brien said Jacobs trained strongly on Thursday night and would be given until Friday to "see how he pulls up".
"He'll be considered (if he's fit),"he said.
"It puts another big man in our back line. He's played well against North this year."
O'Brien said classy midfielder Jackson Bell, who was on the exercise bike as his teammates trained at Reid Oval, was "a long shot" to play again in 2019 as he battles a knee injury.
Warrnambool was happy with how its players recovered from Sunday's gruelling first semi-final victory.
"It was a slog but players didn't run as much as they normally would because the ball was so stable," O'Brien said.
"(Training on Thursday night) was really good. It was a beautiful night and we had a short training session with lots of voice and terrific support from the under 18s."
O'Brien said Warrnambool, coming off a emotion-charged win, would take in the "right frame of mind and play with intensity".
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