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Eddie's back but Talia in doubt

Football

Star Adelaide forward Eddie Betts will return for tonight’s Adelaide Oval clash with Geelong but key defender Daniel Talia remains in doubt with a foot injury.

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Talia has been named in the Crows’ 22 but is battling to recover from a foot strain suffered during last week’s loss to Richmond.

Betts, who missed the past two games with a hamstring injury, is one of four inclusions for Adelaide along with Riley Knight, Rory Atkins and Lachlan Murphy.

Veteran midfielder Richard Douglas is out with an ankle injury and Curtly Hampton, Myles Poholke and Darcy Fogarty have been omitted.

Geelong have lost Harry Taylor (foot) to injury along with Jordan Murdoch and Lachie Fogarty, the trio replaced by Daniel Menzel, Wylie Buzza and Sam Simpson.

Menzel has been battling a complex groin injury but will make a long-awaited return to play his first game since round five.

Alex Keath is listed as an emergency for the Crows and looms as the most likely replacement for Talia should he be unable to line up against Geelong spearhead Tom Hawkins.

“We’ll wait a little bit on Daniel,” Adelaide coach Don Pyke said on Wednesday.

“Daniel’s still a little bit sore, so we’ve probably got to test him tomorrow and just see how he comes up on a six-day break. It’s just going to be important to use as much time as we can.”

The 11th-placed Crows sit two games outside the top eight and have only managed one win from their past six games. A loss to Geelong would almost certainly extinguish their chances of making the eight after playing in last year’s grand final.

Geelong have conceded the lowest average score of any team this season, and Pyke wants his players to be bold with their ball movement to break through the Cats’ miserly defence.

“Clearly tomorrow we need to come prepared to take on the opposition,” Pyke said.

“I think we’ve seen when we do that, we move the ball a little bit quicker and it gives us the chance to get through and score.

“We’re looking forward to creating some more opportunities tomorrow night.”

The Crows received a major boost on Wednesday with star midfielder and free agent Rory Sloane resisting overtures from Victorian clubs and signing a five-year deal.

Geelong onballer Scott Selwood may well be tasked with tagging Sloane, having returned from injury to provide a harder edge to the Cats’ midfield.

“There were a few weeks where we really brought the heat and it sort of didn’t really look like I had a spot in the side anymore,” Selwood said at Melbourne Airport.

“I thought that the team was playing quite well without me but then (you get) injuries and all that sort of stuff.

“You’ve just got to work really hard to get back into the side, which is a great position to be in.”

– AAP

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