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Crows drop Crouch, Port loses two defenders

Football

Adelaide midfielder Matt Crouch has been dumped ahead of Sunday’s clash with North Melbourne, while Port Adelaide’s Darcy Byrne-Jones and Tom Clurey have been ruled out of the Power’s Sunday’s contest against Gold Coast.

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Crows coach Mattthew Nicks says Crouch is “really disappointed” at being axed from Sunday’s game.

As the Crows sweat on Taylor Walker’s fitness after the spearhead reported calf soreness on Friday, Crouch is grappling with being dropped for a second time in less than two months.

The Crows’ 2007 club champion was overlooked for three games from round eight and again finds himself on the outer after returning for the past three matches.

“The first 24 hours, all players, they get to where they are because they’re super-competitive, so I have got no doubt at the moment Matty is doing it quite tough,” Nicks told reporters on Friday.

“(He is) really disappointed. And it’s a hard one because it’s a challenge for any competitive sports person to not be selected.”

Crouch, a renowned inside midfielder, was being challenged to find impact on the outside of packs.

“We were exposed in that (outside work) on the weekend, Gold Coast really did put us to the sword a little bit on the outside,” Nicks said.

“It’s dual, it’s what the team needs, for Matty it’s a bit of balance, a bit of outside work … the game requires you to really get on the outside.”

Crouch has been replaced by 21-year-old Harry Schoenberg but Nicks rejected suggestions the 27-year-old Crouch was at the crossroads given the Crows were rebuilding with a youth focus.

“No, because we always want to keep that balance right with experience and youth,” he said.

“There’s a fine line with that … we’re constantly looking at that (experience and youth) balance and that is where Matty is really important to us as a footy club.”

Key forward Walker could be given until match-day to prove his fitness.

“It’s a little bit concerning that his calf is tight but he is quietly confident that he’ll be fine,” Nicks said.

“He doesn’t have to train tomorrow. With his experience we will leave that one with him and the doctors to make a call on and it may be a game-day call.”

Meanwhile, Port Adelaide have lost two defensive linchpins to COVID-19 protocols with Darcy Byrne-Jones and Tom Clurey among four changes to a 12th-placed Power line-up seeking to keep in touch with the top eight.

Influential midfielder Zak Butters (knee) and mid-season draftee Brynn Teakle (broken collarbone) are sidelined for the Adelaide Oval fixture against the 11th-placed Suns, who are one win ahead of Port on the ladder.

Power stalwart Travis Boak returns after being ruled of last week’s win against Sydney because of the AFL’s health and safety protocols surrounding COVID-19.

And while key backman Trent McKenzie will replace Clurey, Port coach Ken Hinkley says he’s still mulling over the other replacements.

“We will work our way through that,” Hinkley told reporters on Friday.

Hinkley has named two sons of premiership players in Port’s extended squad – Taj Schofield, son of Jarrad, and Jase Burgoyne, the son of Peter.

But the Power coach was tightlipped whether they would make their AFL debuts against the Suns.

“They are really close (to selection), both boys are doing really well,” he said.

“Both boys have got what we consider really bright futures.

“They have got an opportunity, I am sure, at some stage coming. Whether that is this weekend we will work through that.”

Steven Motlop and Miles Bergman were also included in the Power’s extended squad, with the team to be finalised on Friday evening.

-with AAP

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