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Struggling Stevie J still in mix for Crows clash

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Steve Johnson has struggled to put two strong games together this year but the door remains open for the Greater Western Sydney forward to take on the Crows in next week’s crucial Qualifying Final.

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The 34-year-old’s poor game against Geelong last week highlighted he is no longer an automatic selection ahead of his retirement at season’s end.

The star goalsneak has been hampered by a knee injury this season but he is set to benefit from the week off leading to the Adelaide Oval final next Thursday.

His reputation as a match-winner will also count in his favour in his bid for a swan song.

But Giants coach Leon Cameron conceded there were doubts about his durability for the month-long finals campaign.

“His knee’s pulled up pretty well and he’ll be in line for selection,” Cameron told reporters today.

“It’s unfortunate he hasn’t had any continuity.

“Some of the games he’s been able to produce throughout the year on the back of maybe a week or two off or not backing up week-to-week have been really pleasing.

“But there’s no doubt when he has to back up two or three weeks in a row, it has affected his form and his body hasn’t been able to handle it.”

Calls to drop former the Geelong player, whose career has spanned 291 games including 24 finals for three premierships and 510 goals, come as utility Matt de Boer and last year’s No.2 draft pick Tim Taranto wait in the wings.

Johnson was goalless with eight touches against the Cats but Cameron insists he wasn’t the only player who struggled in the 44-point loss.

“There were probably 15 or 16 other players,” Cameron said.

“We were poor and we let ourselves down. We had a tough review on Tuesday – an honest review.”

For the Crows, ruckman Sam Jacobs is expected to play next week despite taking bereavement leave this week following the death of his older brother Aaron.

Jacobs paid tribute to the 31-year-old on social media overnight, telling his brother: “I will never be able to replace the massive empty feeling I have now in my heart and I can no longer tell you how much I love you and how proud I am of the person you have become.”

Crows board member Mark Ricciuto said on his Triple M segment this morning: “It absolutely rocks the family. It’s going to be a very, very tough week.”

-AAP

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