SOUTH Warrnambool expects damaging footballer Ricky Henderson to play against arch-rival Warrnambool and have an impact despite carrying an injury.
Roosters coach Mat Battistello said the former AFL wingman, now playing as permanent forward, hurt his finger at training on Thursday night.
He played in the team's loss to Hampden league ladder-leader Koroit on Saturday but was rested late as the game slipped from the Roosters' reach.
Battistello said Henderson, who has kicked 22 goals for the second-placed Roosters, received top care.
"We are lucky we have great medical staff and he'll continue to play," he told The Standard. "He has to have it strapped up. Between the doctor and our trainers on Thursday night they were able to put a splint on it.
"It didn't affect him in the first half (against the Saints). He looked very, very dangerous and his form the past last month is back to where we expected it to be and where he expected it to be.
"It had just taken him a while to adjust and get his body right. He is a pretty dangerous player for us."
The non-playing coach said the Roosters, with 11 wins from 13 games, had earned the right to manage their list on the run home.
"We anticipate he (Henderson) will definitely be playing this week but like all of our players, we have got to a position now where we're loading them up (training-wise) but also leading into finals as well those who need a bit of a break before then we'll make sure we give them that opportunity as well," Battistello said.
"We've gone down the conservative path to this point and we may as well continue down that path."
Battistello said Henderson, who arrived at Friendly Societies' Park via Adelaide and Hawthorn, provided invaluable on-field leadership.
"We have kept him pretty settled to our forward line this year," he said.
"His leadership on ground has been outstanding for our young group and the boys notice when he's not on the ground, so it's not just what he does with his brilliant football ability."
South Warrnambool was missing midfield trio Josh Saunders, Liam Youl and James Hussey against Koroit.
Saunders and Youl are battling soft tissue injuries while Brayden Beks' return from a leg complaint was delayed.
Experienced midfielder Nick Thompson suffered back spasms during the game and finished on the bench while teenager Ollie Smith (corkie) was sore but is expected to play against the Blues.
Battistello said the Roosters were pleased with their teenage players who have stepped up.
"I thought Luamon (Lual) in his first senior game of seniors this year - he's obviously been involved with a lot of (AFL under 18) programs and with the (NAB League) Rebels - has certainly improved," he said.
"We were pretty impressed with the way he's coming along and all the young boys had moments but the learning from it is they need to do it for longer periods of time and when they do they'll become really good senior players. At the moment they're just in a learning stage."
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.