Hewett misses again, Bont managed, Crouch dropped, Clark out due to H&S protocols, Daicos worry

Popular trade-in option Greg Clark will miss Round 8 due to health and safety protocols, while Nick Daicos missed training on Thursday and there were updates on Tim English’s inclusion and Jayden Short’s role.

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DEBUTANT ALERT

Cooper Stephens (AF $190k SC $123k MID) will debut for Geelong. He went pick 16 in the 2019 AFL Draft and is a 21-year-old midfielder, who collected 24 disposals with six clearances in the VFL last weekend.

TEAM NEWS (key ins/outs)

Key ins: Khamis, Amiss, Darcy, D.Martin, P.McCartin, R.Thompson, C.Stephens, Dangerfield, Ward, R.Marshall, Z.Williams, Hinge, L.Jackson (26), Laurie (26), Soligo (26), Pedlar (26)

Key outs: Bontempelli (mng), McInnes, Dempsey, Baldwin, Macdonald (mng), M.Crouch

Key holds: S.Hayes, McComb, O’Driscoll, Curtis, N.Daicos, Begg, M.Rioli, Gibcus, Ladhams, Rosas, Callaghan, Hamilton, Callow, Durdin, Carroll, Rachele, Windhager (26)

Potential subs/emergencies: McEntee, Erasmus, Gould, Dempsey, Baldwin, Macdonald

Key absences: English, Hickey, Hewett

Popular AFL Fantasy pick Matt Crouch (AF $684k SC $480k MID) has been dropped by Adelaide. Crows Head of Footy Adam Kelly said: “After missing 12 months of football, Matt is still working back to his best… He will go back to the SANFL and continue to build confidence and consistency as part of his progression.”

George Hewett (AF $758k SC $536k D/M) was absent again due to a calf cork, while Tim English (AF $837k SC $572k R/F) has not been named. Dogs coach Luke Beveridge had said: “They’re (English & Keath) fit and strong. It’s whether or not we go the conservative route. We’ll make a call this afternoon.”

Dogs teammate Marcus Bontempelli (AF $806k SC $578k MID) has been managed along with Hawks youngster Connor Macdonald (AF $353k SC $197k F/M), with Josh Ward (AF $406k SC $236k MID) returning.

Dustin Martin (AF $676k SC $503k M/F) returns for Richmond. Tigers coach Damien Hardwick said: “If he gets through training, he’ll play.” Maurice Rioli Jr (AF $226k SC $123k FWD) holds his spot. Hardwick said: “I would think so (he holds his spot). Just his energy and vibrancy up forward.”

Gold Coast confirmed the return of rookie-priced defender Rory Thompson (AF $190k SC $123k DEF). Gold Coast coach Stuart Dew said: “An ACL injury is one of the most devastating in our sport, and to be able to come back from not just one, but two ACL recoveries is a tremendous achievement. We’re rapt to have him back in the side.”

UPDATES

West Coast have been decimated by injuries and players entering H&S protocols with Greg Clark (AF $250k SC $117k MID) the latest to go in. The Eagles said in an update: “The club has eight staff and players – including Greg Clark who made an impressive debut last week – currently in AFL Health and Safety protocols.”

But it looks like Luke Strnadica (AF $248k SC $102k RUCK) and Hugh Dixon (AF $353k SC $246k F/R) are available, although it has been reported the former didn’t board the team bus at 1pm WST after Knights’ conference.

Eagles stand-in coach Matthew Knights said: “We’ll decide in the next 24 hours on Strnadica, Dixon, Jamieson and also Harry Edwards. We’ve got four guys that could potentially play in the ruck. I guess two will share the duties.”

Due to West Coast’s issues, the Lions-Eagles teams will be named at 5:30pm AEST / 3:30pm AWST on Friday.

Nick Daicos (AF $639k SC $379k D/M) was among a group of Collingwood players absent from training on Thursday. Collingwood coach Craig McRae said: “We’ve got the man flu still going. We’ve got 2-3 (Daicos, Maynard, Adams didn’t train today) who’ve still got the flu.”

Hardwick also praised youngster Josh Gibcus (AF $378k SC $293k DEF). He said: “His last two weeks have been exceptional. You’re looking at an 18-year-old key position player who’s gone under the radar of the media. He’s been fantastic, growing into that role.”

He also offered an insight into the likelihood of Jayden Short (AF $879k SC $532k DEF) playing in the midfield again. Hardwick said: “He’s such a damaging half-back but obviously through the middle he was very good as well. There’s probably a fair chance he’ll play a similar type of role this week but things can change.”

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