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Wood poised for return

Nick Bowen - AFL.com.au  April 20, 2017 1:52 PM

200417_WoodLarge.jpg

Emerging forward Mason Wood is poised to return for North Melbourne against Fremantle on Saturday night after a horror run of injury, while defender Ed Vickers-Willis is a strong chance to make his AFL debut.

North coach Brad Scott told reporters on Thursday Wood would line up against Freo subject to a final all-clear from the club's medical team.

"Provided he gets through training today he'll play in the seniors. He's done a power of work, so it's not an issue of whether he's ready or not," Scott said.

"It's a matter of whether medically he's absolutely got the final tick off and we're not putting him at undue risk.

"Once I get that final tick off, we're prepared to pick him."

Wood has not played a senior home and away game since suffering a medial ligament injury in round 16 last season against West Coast.

He played in North's first JLT Community Series game in late February, but was sidelined by hamstring and knee injuries before returning to play three-and-a-half quarters for Werribee in its VFL clash with Geelong last Sunday.

The former Geelong Falcon is one of North's brightest young prospects. In his fourth season at Arden St last year, he kicked 12 goals in eight games before his season-ending injury, impressing with his elite endurance and contested marking.

Scott dismissed suggestions Wood was injury-prone, saying his knee injury last year had been caused by a collision while this year's injuries had been minor.

"I'm sure once he gets a bit of luck he'll get a consistent run at it and he'll show everyone just how good he can be," Scott said.

Third-year defender Vickers-Willis was best on ground for Werribee last Sunday and after a strong 2017 preparation that saw him play all three JLT Community Series games is finally on the verge of playing his first senior game.

Scott said Vickers-Willis would be included in North's travelling party of 23 for this round's trip to Domain Stadium but, as of noon on Thursday, the Roos coach could not confirm whether he would play against the Dockers.

"I think he's probably done enough to make his debut for the last few weeks, but it's been (a case of) shuffling our midfield and where he's going to play and various options," Scott said.

"He's certainly going to be in our 23 – we'll take 23 over to Perth – but I'd say he's a really good chance of playing."

Scott said North was undecided about whether it would try to negate the influence of star Fremantle ruckman Aaron Sandilands by playing both Todd Goldstein and Braydon Preuss.

Barring round two when Goldstein missed with an ankle injury, the 2015 All Australian and Preuss have been the Roos' first-choice ruck team this season.

But Scott said North's tall structure remained in "a state of flux", with Ben Brown, Majak Daw and, to a lesser extent, Ben McKay and Nick Larkey also capable of playing a forward/ruck role.

The Roos coach said North had to balance the need to combat Sandilands with the need to play a team with enough run to cope with the long dimensions of Domain Stadium.