Wangaratta will welcome back some much-needed experience in time for its clash with Wodonga on Saturday.
Magpies coach Dean Stone has confirmed Matt Grossman, Ben Douthie, Josh Porter and Matt Kelly will all return to the senior side and play together for the first time since round one against Lavington.
“All those guys missed Albury and the week off has given them some extra time to recover, not that they were serious injuries, but they just weren’t fit enough to play,” Stone said.
“The guys that have been missing are experienced footballers, they’re the leaders of our footy club.
We’re a really young group, I think we had nine players under 19 against Albury.
“We’re a really young group, I think we had nine players under 19 against Albury.
“When you take some of those older, experienced guys out with their direction and leadership off the field, it depletes you a little bit.
“I’m really pleased to get them back and hopefully we can get a bit of luck and get some consistency and continuity with our group moving forward.”
Stone added that Porter could have played against Albury and was given the all clear to play interleague, but decided against it.
“He chose to have another week off to be on the safe side and be able to come back and play for his club at 100 per cent fitness,” Stone said.
“Grossman and Douthie were our runners against Albury and were really close to playing, but it’s round five and we decided with a bye coming up to manage them and make them available in round six against Wodonga at full fitness.”
Stone was also happy with the contributions of his stars Michael Newton, Ben Speight and Michael Bordignon for the interleague side.
“For Michael and Ben, it gives them continuity with playing and helps with their fitness and their consistency,” he said.
“It was pleasing that they performed well and got through unscathed.
“Our focus is on Wodonga and we need to get back to winning games of footy.”