NORTH Ballarat City’s premiership hopes have been dealt a major blow with star players Tristan Cartledge and Derrick Micallef expected to miss the rest of the Ballarat Football League finals series.
Each has been ruled out of the cut-throat semi-final against Darley at the Eastern Oval on Sunday, with coach Rob Waters conceding it was unlikely either would play any further role in the 2013 finals campaign.
Both are arguably among North’s top five players, with Cartledge proving pivotal in the ruck this year and Micallef easily leading the goal kicking for his side with 56 goals to his name this year.
Cartledge is suffering a suspected hand fracture he sustained in the opening five minutes of Saturday’s qualifying final against Redan.
Waters said Micallef was battling a lower back injury and had possible fractured some bones, meaning it was highly unlikely he would play again this year.
Micallef also went down in the first quarter on Saturday, but battled out two more quarters in obvious pain.
“I think they’re both in a bit of trouble,” Waters told a BFL press conference yesterday.
Josh McDermott is looming as the most likely replacement for Cartledge in the ruck for just his second game this year, while Waters said a decision on Micallef’s replacement was a long way off being secured.
There are another three or four players still under injury clouds.
“We don’t want to be playing a game against Darley and taking blokes in under done, it would be no good for us and we can’t afford to have blokes getting injured during the game,” he said.
“They’re (Cartledge and Micallef) good players for us but as I said it’s good to give other blokes a go.”
For Devils coach Rod MacPherson, it was a case of whether his players could serve a repeat dosage of their stirring comeback win against East Point on Sunday.
His side was sent packing from last year’s finals by North City, but he said that had not even been mentioned.
Darley is not without its own injuries, forced on the weekend to field some players that were far from 100 per cent fit.
“We had a lot of young guys playing their first final. It’s always the question whether they will front up the same again next week,” MacPherson said.
“You’ve just got be cut and dry with your guys. They’ll always be putting their hands up, they’ll always be saying they want to play but you have to do what’s best for the team. This week we will be brutally ruthless about who we select and who went don’t,” he said.
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