BALLARAT looks to have lost its captain for at least the rest of the home and away season, with Mark Cunningham breaking his wrist last week.
The loss of the Swans’ spiritual leader is a big blow for Ballarat as the season draws closer to an end.
Coach Ash Baker said Cunningham would be out of action for at least four weeks, with his injury to be further assessed down the track.
“He’s a very unassuming player but he does his job each and every week, normally shutting down an opposing small forward,” Baker said.
Cunningham headlines a swag of exclusions from Ballarat’s side this week, with Tom Stapleton and Chris Thornton to miss with injury, while ruckman Sam Conroy has been lost to North Ballarat Roosters.
In to fill the void are Joe Otto, Travis Hoyle, Luke Kenelly, Nick Garner, Joshua Crawford and Matt Dawson.
Myles Sewell will also play his second game for Ballarat, having got through his debut unscathed last week.
“Our reserves have been going pretty well this year and there are a few guys who have probably been unlucky not to play more senior footy,” Baker said.
Sitting in third position, equal with second-placed Redan on premiership points but with an inferior percentage, Baker said ladder position had not been discussed within his group.
“All you can do is try and win as many games as possible and let the results speak for themselves,” he said.
For Lake Wendouree, there are some big inclusions for a side coming in fresh off the bye.
Angus Kirby returns from overseas, while Ash Simpson has finally recovered from a foot injury that has kept him out of action since round three.
Gazing into the crystal ball, it is most likely two wins out of the remaining four games will see the Lakers make finals.
But in true footy fashion, coach Gavin Webb said all the focus was on the Swans at the moment.
“It’s a cliche, but we can’t afford to even look at finals at the moment,” he said.
“There’s so many variables with each side that there is no point trying to figure out what is going to happen.
“Obviously we go in as underdogs this week, but we were competitive with them earlier in the year and that gives us confidence.”
PREDICTION: Ballarat to sneak home, but Lakers to come out firing.