SENIOR COACH Justin Leppitsch is confident that the Lions’ ranks will begin to regain full force with the return of some experienced players ahead of the game against Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
There are a possible six players returning to the game, with Redden, Adcock, Harwood, Gardiner and McStay all in consideration for the senior side.
Brent Staker’s last game was against the Gold Coast in Round 5, he is expected to play in the NEAFL against Eastlake in Canberra, this weekend.
Leppitsch admits that having so many players to choose from has been a pleasant problem to have, after so many injuries and selection dilemmas.
“It makes match committee longer when you’ve got some players available. You stop asking which player do you want to give opportunity to and have to start asking which player do you want to take that opportunity away from.
“That makes it difficult, because you have to make some hard calls as you take some players in and out of the team, but that’s the game, we want these problems and we more of them,” he said.
The Club’s selection dramas are set to become more complicated with the imminent return of Daniel Merrett.
“Dan trained really well, I was watching him last night. I wanted to pick him, but the medicos made me not make that decision, so he’ll play some form of football next week.
As for captain Tom Rockliff, Leppitsch said he’s biting at the bit to get back into game, but that he’s probably got one to two more weeks in the infirmary wing before he’ll be considered fit to play.
“Rockliff is a week or two away, and he’s like last time pushing himself forward and forward each week, but we have to hold him back because obviously he’s got some soft ribs and we need to make sure we get them right.
“As a coach you don’t want players playing if they can’t perform at their best, and it also doesn’t help him on the field. It doesn’t help your performance if you’re half injured,” he said.
While injury has been a debilitating experience for the Club, Leppitsch has been impressed with the form of the younger players who stepped up, with players such as Hugh Beasley and Jordan Bourke proving that they can perform at the top level.
Press Conference 18 June 2015