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At last, Crouch returns for Crows

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Adelaide midfielder Brad Crouch will play his first game in a year in Friday’s AFL pre-season fixture against Gold Coast.

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But Adelaide coach Don Pyke cautions against expecting too much too soon from Crouch, who missed the entire 2015 premiership season because of a foot injury.

“It’s good for him, he has done a mountain of training and been keen to get going for a number of weeks, and it’s important in his build towards round one,” Pyke told reporters today.

Some pundits believe the 2013 Rising Star runner-up can fill the void created by Patrick Dangerfield’s departure to Geelong but Pyke isn’t among them, admitting some surprise at the attention surrounding Crouch’s return.

“We’re not going to be a footy club that is going to rely on an individual,” Pyke said.

“And I think it’s probably flattering for Brad to get the attention he’s getting.

“We’re keen, as he is, to get him back out on the park and playing footy. But we’re not sitting here going ‘if we don’t get Brad Crouch back, we can’t win’.

“We have got other guys who have had really good pre-seasons are pressing their claims for a game as well.”

The Crows have summoned an experienced core for the away fixture against the Suns with captain Taylor Walker, Scott Thompson, Sam Jacobs, Eddie Betts and Daniel Talia all to play after sitting out the club’s last pre-season game.

Similarly, Gold Coast have also recalled a senior brigade including Nick Malceski, Rory Thompson, Steven May, Matt Rosa, Michael Rischitelli and Tom Lynch for a game to be played under a new premiership-season condition – an interchange cap of 90 rotations, which wasn’t enforced in the opening two pre-season matches.

“It’s a good final preparation for us as we head into round one,” Pyke said.

“It will be a bit of a trial. It’s important the players get some exposure to the type of time on ground they’re likely to experience in round one so it’s not a shock.

Meanwhile, Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley is tempering any expectation about prized recruit Charlie Dixon’s debut for the Power.

The former Gold Coast forward will play for Port for the first time against Richmond in tomorrow night’s pre-season game after overcoming a knee injury suffered in January.

“There has been a fair bit built up around Charlie over the summer and us getting him, so we look forward to seeing his start,” Hinkley said.

“But you want to hold the expectation back a little.

“He is coming off a pretty restricted program for the last four weeks.”

Dixon has been slated to play about half the game against the Tigers at Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium.

“There’s still some restrictions … we are just very mindful of where he’s at and what he has done,” Hinkley said.

The Power coach believed the best was yet to come from the 25-year-old, who kicked 94 goals in 65 games for the Suns.

“Charlie is still growing as a person and growing as a player, that is the key thing,” Hinkley said.

“He’s only 25 so he has got a lot of growth still to come.

“But his physical growth is obvious and his teammates see it, they go out there with him at training and they get excited by his size, that gives them some confidence to go forward.”

Hinkley has rested wingman Jared Polec, on the comeback trail from a foot injury that ruined his 2015 season, citing the hard surface at Etihad Stadium as the reason.

“He is not playing on Etihad,” Hinkley said.

“It’s obvious that they come off (Etihad) more jaded.

“This is purely all about you don’t need to take any risks with Jared Polec. Why would you, it’s not a position on the ladder that is up for grabs this week, it’s about getting ready for round one.”

-AAP

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