Lady Bandits relieved Angel clear to face the Tornadoes

THE Albury-Wodonga Lady Bandits have received mixed news on their injury woes ahead of tonight’s clash with the Launceston Tornadoes.

Centre Lauren Angel has been cleared to make her SEABL debut for the Border outfit after scans cleared her of any damage to her foot following an injury scare against the Ballarat Rush last weekend.

But US forward Rachel Maenpaa has been ruled out after recently undergoing arthroscopic surgery on her left ankle.

The Lady Bandits were desperately hoping Angel would be available given import Emilee Harmon will also miss tonight’s clash due to playoff commitments with her team in Ireland.

Coach James Ballinger said he was relieved Angel’s injury wasn’t as bad as first thought.

“Lauren is a go,” Ballinger said.

“No fracture, no real ligament damage and has really good movement in her ankle, so very relieved. It looked terrible when it happened.

“Unfortunately, Rachel still isn’t right, still recovering.

“Very sore, still hasn’t commenced running on it; hopefully she’ll play next week but we’ll have a clearer idea on Monday.”

After winning just the solitary game last season, the Tornadoes are expected to be much improved this year, having added Adelaide forward-centre Nadeen Payne along with Townsville Fire duo Emma McKenzie and Alex Wilson, who was also the WNBL’s rookie of the year.

Ballinger admitted the Tornadoes presented a real challenge for his team, even with the possibility Wilson might not play.

“Launceston has some really talented players,” he said.

“Lauren Mansfield is a very good player.

“And Nadeen Payne is an athletic big who has good range so that’s going to be a crucial match-up.

“And Emma McKenzie has spent time in a quality WNBL program at Townsville.

“It doesn’t look like Alex Wilson will play, so we might have caught a break there.”

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