YARRAWONGA will not risk injury-hampered midfield star Xavier Leslie in tomorrow’s grand final qualifier against Albury.
Pigeons co-coach Chris Kennedy said Leslie’s ankle injury was worse than first thought.
Yarrawonga named an unchanged line-up for the second semi-final.
Leslie withdrew just hours before last week’s qualifying final against Lavington and was expected to prove his fitness in time for tomorrow’s blockbuster at Bunton Park.
“If he’s not right, he’s not right,” Kennedy said last night.
“He was really close again, and was jogging and kicking at training, but if he’s uncomfortable at training then we expect he’ll pull up sore.
“We’ve got good depth and blokes in the twos putting their hands up.
“If it was a prelim or granny he’d definitely be playing but at this stage it’s not worth the risk for the rest of the finals.”
Albury, meanwhile, made two changes for the eagerly awaited showdown at North Albury.
As expected, Andy Carey and Matt Shir made way through suspension and injury respectively.
Youngsters James McQuillan and Will Haberecht came into the Albury team.
Thousands are expected to flock to Bunton Park for tomorrow’s grand final qualifier after a fiery clash at Albury less than a fortnight ago.
The winner will progress to its fifth straight decider, while the loser will face the winner of Lavington’s clash with Wangaratta Rovers on Sunday.
The Panthers made four changes for their clash with the Hawks.
Reserve grade coach Jarrod Hillary, who hasn’t played a senior game all season, came into an extended squad alongside Joel Hartley, Luke Brauer and Sam Hargreave.
Assistant coach Matt Pendergast won’t play because of hamstring troubles, while Tom Yensch, Sam Bowler and Alex Jones are poised to make way.
Murray Bushrangers’ captain Michael Gibbons had been expected to come into Lavington’s side but will sit out this week because of an ankle sprain.
The hamstring curse has also hit the Hawks, with Joel Coombes and Kyle Raven to miss the elimination semi-final at Corowa.