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Ziebell, Thomas to ease injury pain

Sportal August 15, 2012, 8:42 pm
Jack Ziebell

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North Melbourne coach Brad Scott is expecting the inclusion of star on-baller Jack Ziebell and small forward Lindsay Thomas to offset the loss of Daniel Wells and Leigh Adams for Saturday night's crucial clash with Collingwood.

The Roos' win over Essendon last Sunday came at a huge cost with Wells ruled out with a calf injury, Adams' season coming to an end due to reconstructive shoulder surgery and defender Nathan Grima also set for a layoff with hamstring tendonitis.

Ziebell returns in a boost for the Kangaroos after serving his controversial four-match ban for a high hit on Carlton's Aaron Joseph, while Thomas is back in the frame after sitting out two matches for rough conduct.

Scott said the loss of the trio, particularly Wells, would be significant but expected both Thomas and Ziebell to line up against the Pies fresh from their win over ladder leaders Sydney at ANZ Stadium.

"It's (the loss of Wells) offset a little bit by some really good inclusions, with Thomas available and Ziebell back available," Scott said on Wednesday.

"But you don't replace Daniel Wells do you? He's been a super player for us this season and we rate him right up there in the top echelon of midfielders in the competition.

"Leigh Adams is the heart and soul of our club so he's a huge loss for us.

"He's had a really rough trot ... and Nathan Grima has been an important part of our defence so we'll miss him too."

Scott confirmed Lachie Hansen would be available having played on courageously against the Bombers despite suffering concussion in the opening quarter.

Meanwhile, vice-captain Ziebell is expected to slot straight back in after two weeks of altitude training in Utah.

"He's a natural footballer," Scott said.

"He's an extremely hard worker but his strength is that his touch is pretty natural, a lot of players would lose that after four weeks out."

This clash presents the Roos with a huge chance to solidify their spot in the top eight following a run of eight wins in nine matches when it looked like they would struggle to challenge after a 115-point loss to Hawthorn in Round 10.

Yet, last year's 117-point hammering the Pies dished out in the corresponding fixture was not far from Scott's mind, nor was the 80.5-point average winning margin they boast in four consecutive wins over North Melbourne.

The most recent loss in Round 16 last year saw the Roos stack up 47 inside 50s and 12 more clearances than Collingwood, yet still lose by over 100 points.

"The game last year was quite extraordinary ... I defy anyone to find a game like that where you lose by 117 points and still go inside 50 that many times," Scott said.

"We just got monstered by their good players and they outran us."

Scott is aware of Collingwood's similarly ominous form heading into this weekend's clash.

"It's difficult to stack them (Collingwood) up," he said.

"We've faced crunch games for almost two months and this is just another one of those.

"They're proving themselves to be a really good team and they had a good, hard, tough, resilient win against good opposition (Sydney) away from home last week.

"It might seem simple but their strengths - they're upper echelon for contested footy, upper echelon in the competition for outside run and their defence is really strong so it just gets back to the basics of footy and we have to beat them at the coal face."

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