AFL Qualifying Finals: West Coast Eagles star Matt Priddis likely to miss clash against Hawthorns

The Eagles will wait until the last minute for the midfielder to prove he is fit enough
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Australian Rules Football legend Adam Goodes in training
Aboriginal activist and Australian Rules Football legend Adam Goodes reaches to catch a ball during a team training session at the Sydney Cricket Ground, Australia, August 4, 2015. Reuters/David Gray

The West Coast Eagles’ hopes of winning Friday night’s qualifying final clash against Hawthorns have taken a massive hit, with various reports claiming that centreman Matt Priddis is likely to miss the game with a thigh strain suffered earlier in the week in training.

The injury was serious enough for the 30-year-old to miss Thursday’s training session behind closed doors, and makes his appearance in the qualifying final highly doubtful. There has been no word from the team on his participation, however, with the Sydney Morning Herald reporting that the team is ready to wait right until the 90 minute deadline for submitting the team sheets before taking a call.

The Eagles have already been hit with injuries ahead of Friday’s clash, with inside midfielder Chris Masten also missing the game with a hamstring injury. With the two injured, the Hawks may well dominate the midfield with their superior trio of Luke Hodge, Sam Mitchell and Jordan Lewis.

Priddis has been crucial to the Eagles’ winning season so far, especially with his clearances and midfield dominance leading the team to the AFL finals. He is averaging seven tackles per game, to go with 30 disposals per game, 15 contested possessions and over 7 clearances per game, and is also the reigning Brownlow Medallist to boot.

If Priddis is ruled out of the games, Patrick McGinnity will be expected to step up in his absence. McGinnity will be facing huge pressure, having appeared in only eight games in the season so far.

While the Hawks will be expected to take advantage, they also have an injury problem of their own, with midfielder Isaac Smith having strained ligaments in his left knee during the win over Carlton last week. The Hawthorns will also wait until the very last minute to see if he can recover in time for the game.

Billy Hartung is expected to replace him in the lineup. Smith had already been named in the lineup for the game by the Hawks, but like Priddis, also missed Thursday’s training session. Both teams will be keen on securing the win on Friday, which will see them get a week’s rest before hosting the Preliminary Finals.

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