Having just returned from a weekend in Canberra, the bad news seems to have piled up in my Collingwood inbox over the weekend. On top of Alan Didak with an adductor injury, the likes of Ben Johnson (hamstring) and Andrew Krakouer (personal leave) were added to the sidelines.
There was also word that new recruit Jamie Elliott had suffered a minor injury, although he appears to have taken part in our charity dash around the Tan on Monday, so you would imagine that whatever niggle he had was even more minor than initially reported.
Losing both Didak and Krakouer, presumably for the early stages of our campaign, is certainly not ideal. They’re our two most dangerous players in terms of creativity within the forward line, leaving us a little bereft of magic as our season opener against Hawthorn draws near. Krakouer has been granted leave to return home and address some personal issues, hopefully returning in good shape and determined to regain his spot.
As frustrating as some of the news has been, I’m trying to look at it from a positive angle, the most obvious of which is the one of opportunity. When Didak was ruled out of the NAB Cup, Fasolo became an important player throughout the preseason and a very likely starter come round one. Now that Krakouer has also been sidelined, all eyes will turn to a healthy Brent Macaffer to carry the load.
Whilst Fasolo and Macaffer are obvious choices to step in, the door has been widened for all of Ugle, Seedsman, Sinclair and even young Elliott if his injury issue was just a blip on the radar. The NAB Cup is the perfect opportunity for the club to expose some of these players to see who might put their hand up for a potential spot in the seniors come round one.
Down back and through the middle, the loss of Ben Johnson and departure of Leon Davis opens the door for an instant return to senior action for Martin Clarke. Clarke proved himself capable of a half-back role during his first stint at Collingwood and assuming he hasn’t lost his touch for our game, would be the most logical replacement for Johnson. Simon Buckley, Luke Rounds and possibly even Peter Yagmoor are three other players who might benefit from Johnno’s misfortune.
It is unlikely that Ben Reid and Nathan Brown will be thrown straight into the NAB Cup, given that we’ve been nursing them both back to contact drills in recent weeks. Lachlan Keeffe underwent post-season surgery, but if the medicos give him the green light then he stands as a likely replacement for Ben Reid during the NAB Cup. Tarrant may hold down the other key defensive post, but the club may look to manage his load given he’s in the twilight of his career.
Tyson Goldsack is a player who could press a serious case during the NAB Cup, although he may have to punch above his weight in lieu of Reid and Brown being available. Moneybags has stuck by the club and his loyalty is most appreciated, however I’d like to see him really stake a claim once more in 2012.
One of the talking points about our campaign last year was our admittedly shallow depth, a by product of so many senior campaigners retiring at the end of 2010. The recent news on the injury front has been worrisome, but it’s better to have a few players laid up at this stage of the season rather than during the all important home stretch – as happened last year.
The players we are missing have opened up a very real opportunity for the club to develop its depth during the NAB Cup and the early stages of the home and away season. If even a couple of players cement their spot – making the return of Didak, Johnson and Krakouer a deliberation rather than a foregone conclusion – then many of the doubts regarding our current depth will be swiftly erased.
Today’s bad news may be tomorrow’s welcome predicament, if come mid-year we have to find a way to include a contingent of healthy and hopefully in form players.