BENDIGO Football Netball League coach Jeff Brennan is confident he has the side to defeat Ballarat, despite another six players being ruled out of the squad yesterday.
Strathfieldsaye forward Sam Mildren (back), Golden Square’s Jack Geary (elbow), South Bendigo midfielder Justin Wilson (jaw), Kangaroo Flat midfielder Mitchell Hough (groin), Sandhurst key position player Ben Anderson (general soreness) and Gisborne midfielder Shaun Comerford (general soreness) have been ruled out of the clash against Ballarat at Eastern Oval on May 25.
Brennan said yesterday he would name a squad of 26 on Tuesday before cutting three more players after Wednesday night’s final training session.
“Obviously it’s not ideal to lose those quality players, but overall we’re very happy with the squad we have available,’’ Brennan said.
“The league has a lot of depth and we’ll have a very strong side representing Bendigo in Ballarat.”
Travis Baird’s return from a groin injury for Golden Square tomorrow is timely for Brennan and his selectors.
“Travis trained well at Golden Square on Tuesday night and, if he gets through the game against Eaglehawk, he’ll be right to play in the inter-league game,’’ Brennan said.
Brennan’s final squad is expected to be built around two key facors – speed and flexibility.
Bendigo ran Ballarat off its legs when it upset the home side in their last inter-league encounter at Bacchus Marsh in 2009.
Bendigo’s wins over Gippsland in 2010 and 2012 were also based on a running game.
The midfield group will rotate around the class of Golden Square duo Simon Rosa and Rick Ladson and the grunt work of Gisborne’s Ollie Messaoudi and South Bendigo’s Brady Childs.
Strathfieldsaye midfielder Shaun Everington appears certain to make his inter-league debut for Bendigo alongside his Storm team-mate Wayne Schultz.
South Bendigo’s Justin Maddern is the obvious choice at full-forward, but who supports him deep inside 50 is undecided.
Sandhurst’s Matt Thornton is a dangerous tall forward, who could be a back-up ruckman for Strathfieldsaye’s Michael Pilcher.
Eaglehawk’s Matt Gretgrix and Thornton’s Sandhurst team-mate Jake Ward are also options to play in a forward pocket.
Eaglehawk’s Kain Robins and Kangaroo Flat’s Tyrone Downie pick themelves across half-forward.
Bendigo has quality and depth in the key defensive posts, with Tim Hill, Lachlan Woodward, Anthony Belcher and Travis Baird all capable of playing full-back and/or centre half-back.