BROADMEADOW Magic will consider playing semi-final absentee Shane Paul and offer injured skipper Josh Piddington every chance to take the field in the grand final on Sunday against Edgeworth at Magic Park.
Paul has been one of Magic’s best this season but has played only once since July 24, mainly because of suspensions and rests due to potential yellow card bans. The tenacious ball winner also missed both semi-final victories over Hamilton to attend buck shows for a friend and brother. Despite the lay-off, Magic co-coach Bob Naumov said Paul remained in the mix for grand final selection.
“He’s available and he’ll be looked at,” Naumov said. “Shane Paul is the kind of guy who will give you massive energy every time he plays. He’ll definitely be looked at to play some role. It’s a really tough call and in normal circumstances you would say 100 per cent, you wouldn’t look at it, but if anyone knows Shane Paul, they know he’s a guy who gives his heart and soul to the team. Whenever you go on the field, he’s one guy you want next to you.”
He said the decision on Paul was the coaching staff’s to make “but definitely you would like the backing of the whole group”.
The other major decision for Magic was on Piddington, who injured his knee late in last week’s 2-1 win over Olympic. The centre-back has received mixed medical advice about his medial cruciate ligament tear and remains in serious doubt. Naumov said Piddington had seen a specialist and will “weigh up if he can do it then have a fitness test”.
“First and foremost, he’s got to weigh up it up in regards to his own health,” he said. “We’ve got a couple of options there and we’ve got a good enough squad. If Piddo is out, as much as that’s a loss, it just means someone else steps up and I’ve seen that many times.”
Edgeworth, meanwhile, came through their 5-1 loss to Western Sydney in the FFA Cup on Tuesday night unscathed and will chase back-to-back premiership doubles on Sunday. Eagles Coach Damian Zane did not believe the extra workload would be a problem and said the pressure was on Magic.
“A lot of people are saying there’s no way we can back up from Tuesday,” Zane said. “For me, the pressure is on them, because if they can’t beat us after we just chased an A-League team for 90 minutes, then they’ll probably never beat us.”
He said Brody Taylor, who returned from an ankle injury against Wanderers, was likely to come off the bench.
Zane said the message to his team would be that “they can be special”.
“I’ve already said to them that what they’ve done in the last two years, they are going to remembered as a team.
“You win the double double, you’re going up into the special category where people will look back and say, 'what a great team that was’.
“So they are hungry, we set goals at the start of the season and we’ve ticked them all off so far. This is another one.”
As for fatigue, Zane believed “like Tuesday night, the adrenaline will keep the boys going”.
Naumov did not believe the Eagles would have trouble backing up from the FFA Cup game.
“I didn’t think they struggled physically the other day, and they had a tough game on the Saturday,” Naumov said.
“I don’t expect them to struggle physically. I didn’t see signs on Tuesday of them struggling physically. Even though the scoreline blew out a bit, I didn’t think they backed off. They kept going for the 90 minutes.
“They’ve got young kids who can run all day, but if you can match them physically, we should do well.
“We’ll back our ability and see how we go.”