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Injuries cloud Crows' opener

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Key players will be missing from both teams in Adelaide’s season-opener against Geelong tomorrow.

Adelaide confirmed Tuesday that its captain Nathan van Berlo has been placed on the club’s long-term injury list.

Van Berlo, 27, had surgery after rupturing his Achilles tendon in a freak training accident in January.

The hard-running midfielder is progressing well in his rehabilitation and is hoping to return to the football field in the latter part of the season.

The club said it is also considering placing defender Ricky Henderson on the long-term injury list while he recovers from a fractured ankle.

“Henderson is also aiming for a late-season return,” a Crows statement said.

Geelong has it’s own problems; injuries to Nathan Vardy, Allen Christensen and Steven Motlop have hurt the Cats’ scoring options.

Brownlow medallist and key midfielder Jimmy Bartel may play his miletone 250th game in a different role.

While Bartel has made his name in the midfield and more recently across half-back, he has also kicked 164 goals in his career.

He famously kicked the winning behind against Hawthorn in 2009, and his three goals helped him win the Norm Smith Medal as best afield in the 2011 grand final win over Collingwood.

“I know it’s going to be hard and a new challenge, but I’m excited by it,” Bartel said.

“We’ve got to help out big Hawk (Tom Hawkins) as much as we can.

“We can’t rely on him to kick us a winning score the whole time.

“Probably with a few of our half-forward types being injured early in the year, I’ve got to step up and do as much as I can there.”

This has already been a year of significant change for the 30-year-old, a three-time premiership player.

He stepped down from Geelong’s leadership group after seven years, making way for Harry Taylor, and has joined the AFL Players Association board.

“We’re in a fortunate position where we’ve got some great leaders at the club, but also some emerging young ones,” Bartel said.

“You’ve got to give them some responsibility and a chance to step up.

“I’ve said it before, I will still have my opinion where I feel it’s needed and if it’s ever asked for.

“I feel pretty comfortable with my decision.”

Bartel added that captain Joel Selwood should be fit for Thursday night’s match after suffering a slight hamstring injury during the pre-season.

“He’s flying around out there,” Bartel said.

“He’s nice and grumpy out on the training track, as you want your captain, but he’s going really well.

“He’s fully fit.”

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