WANGARATTA Rovers coach Paul Maher has revealed the Hawks “almost” rolled the dice and rushed star recruit James Mulligan back for today’s blockbuster against Albury.
Mulligan hasn’t played since suffering medial damage in his knee in round 1 but isn’t far off making his much-anticipated return.
The former Western Bulldogs utility has been sorely missed in defence after showing plenty of signs against North Albury in round 1.
Maher said he would be back after the bye.
“He was very close,” Maher said.
“We nearly did pick him but with the bye next week, it probably swayed us a bit.
“He’ll be back for the Lavington game.”
Dale Martin and Ben Kneebone will also return against the Panthers, while Hayden Lowe and Ryan Cobain are also close to returning.
“We’re going through a bit of an injury nightmare at the moment,” Maher said.
The Hawks face the league’s biggest test at Albury Sportsground, but aren’t daunted.
“We know they are a very good side, so it is up to us to make sure we give a good account of ourselves, which we have been doing,” Maher said.
“They have a very strong midfield and so we want our mids to be really competitive and get their hands on the ball.
“If they can do that, we’re very confident, having Daniel Archer, Jarrad Boumann, Alex Marklew, Matt Smith and Jamie Sheahan up there to give us plenty of scoring opportunities.”
Matt Shir, who has been battling an Achilles problem, has been picked in the Tigers’ reserves today.