Kangaroos hoping injury toll not as bad as first feared

INJURY CLOUD: Shaun Atley of the Kangaroos is helped off after hurting his leg during the round 12 Geelong Cats and North Melbourne Kangaroos AFL match at Etihad.
INJURY CLOUD: Shaun Atley of the Kangaroos is helped off after hurting his leg during the round 12 Geelong Cats and North Melbourne Kangaroos AFL match at Etihad. TRACEY NEARMY

AFL: North Melbourne coach Brad Scott hasn’t given up hope he will have all five of his players injured in the loss to Geelong available for Friday night’s blockbuster against Hawthorn.

The injury to Andrew Swallow (concussion) appeared most serious, but Ben Cunnington (corked quad), Nick Dal Santo (groin), Shaun Atley (ankle) and Robbie Nahas (compound finger dislocation) also struggled as the ladder-leaders suffered just their second loss of the season.

“We’re more positive today than we were probably Saturday night with a few of them, but, again, I wish I could give you more definitive information. I’m still waiting on that information myself,” Scott told reporters.

“What I can say is a similar line to what I’ve been saying the last few weeks in that we’ve got really solid depth on our list and we’ve got a lot of players who have been really pushing for senior selection and have just missed their opportunity due to the form of the team and the form of others in their position.

“So we’re in a position with the combination of our win-loss to this point, and also the depth on our list, that we won’t have to make rash decisions to try and get guys up to play if they’re not right. If they’re not right we’ll just bring the next player in.”

One of them is Brisbane Lions Academy product Corey Wagner, who is standing by to debut for the Kangaroos.

“He’s been ready to play for a number of weeks. If and when we need to call on him, we’re confident he can do the job,” Scott said of Wagner, whose brother Josh has been enjoying his first season with Melbourne.

The Kangaroos (9-2) currently have Jed Anderson (hamstring), Shaun Higgins (knee) and Sam Wright (ankle) unavailable, while ruckman Todd Goldstein is playing but battling a knee injury.

Hawthorn, meanwhile, should welcome back star midfielder Sam Mitchell after he was rested from the 108-point win over Essendon.

In other injury news, Jay Schulz may make a return to Port Adelaide’s side to play Fremantle on Saturday after 11 weeks on the sidelines following back surgery.

“We have to see whether we’re asking too much of him to come straight back in and play,” coach Ken Hinkley told Perth radio station 6PR.

“He did some match simulation on Saturday and got through a whole session there doing it well.

“Jay’s a naturally fit sort of bloke, and he’s a gifted player when it comes to reading the game and handling the ball.

“So it’s pretty easy for him. It’s just whether you give him the opportunity to go out there in a slightly lower standard (SANFL) to get him ready.”

Topics:  afl north melbourne kangaroos

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