GOLDEN Square coach Rick Ladson expects to field a full strength side for the first time this year in the Bendigo Football League qualifying final against Eaglehawk at the QEO on Sunday.
The Bulldogs have struggled with constant weekly changes to their side during the season, but Ladson will have some selection headaches on Thursday night.
Neither of ruckman Zac May, midfielder Jack Daley or Bendigo Gold-listed Ben Archard played in the Bulldogs’ 60-point round 17 win over Maryborough before last week’s bye.
But the trio will all come back into the mix at selection for the clash with the Hawks.
“We’ll have a full list to choose from for the first time this year, which is a good headache to have,” Ladson said on Wednesday.
“It’s part of footy that there’s always going to be injuries, and we’ve had a few this year, but I’ve enjoyed the challenge of having that inconsistency with who has played each week.
“It has given the young guys the chance to develop in an environment that’s not ideal where they haven’t been cushioned by having a lot of senior players around them.
“We’ve had a lot of our young guys tested, but to have still got ourselves into a position to make the finals has been pleasing.”
Chasing their fifth-straight premiership, the Bulldogs will hit the finals in the best form they have been in all season.
They have won their past four games – including three by more than 10 goals – to finish third and earn the double chance, having sat fifth at the halfway mark of the season.
“In an ideal world, you want to hit the finals in good form,” Ladson said.
“But a lot of things went our way over the past few weeks with some of the other results to get us into that top three position.
“Our side is playing some good football, but there’s still plenty of improvement in it and hopefully, we can see that this week and going forward into the rest of the finals.”
The finals begin on Saturday night when Sandhurst and Gisborne meet in the elimination final from 6pm at the QEO.