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Jenkins 'pretty close', says Pyke

Katrina Gill  April 21, 2017 11:08 AM

AFL 2017 Round 01 - Adelaide v GWS Giants

Crows captain Taylor Walker is in good form

I’d expect he should be available next week based on how he’s progressing

Adelaide coach Don Pyke expects forward Josh Jenkins to be fit to take on Richmond next week.

Jenkins, 28, hasn’t played since injuring his ribs against Hawthorn at the MCG in Round Two.

The 200cm goalkicker has participated in some training and will start to increase his contact work.

“Josh got pretty close (to playing against Gold Coast). I’d expect he should be available next week based on how he’s progressing,” Pyke said on Friday.

“He’ll train pretty solidly over the weekend in preparation to get himself ready for next week. He’s done limited contact work. At the moment, it’s been more about getting him up and running again.

“He’ll have to go through match sim at training … not only to give himself the confidence that he’s ready to go … but to make us aware that he’s in that headspace, is over that injury and ready to play again.”

The Crows have been bolstered by the return of Brad Crouch for Saturday’s clash with Gold Coast at Metricon Stadium.

Crouch, 23, has starred since returning from a pre-season hamstring injury in the SANFL a fortnight ago.

Pyke said the 2013 Rising Star runner-up was ready to play his first AFL game of the season.

“We’re really confident Brad comes in (a) in good form and (b) with good fitness under his belt,” he said.

“Obviously, with his history and some of the hamstring problems he’s had we did a fair bit of work in terms of strengthening through his core and lower-leg area.

“Like all our guys, he’ll come in just to play his role.

"We know the quality of the player. I watched him play (SANFL) last week down at Encounter Bay and he ran really strongly throughout the game.

“It’ll be a step up, but we expect he’ll make that transition smoothly.”

Crouch replaces injured defender Jake Kelly (eye) in the Crows team to play the Suns.

Pyke identified 200-gamer Richard Douglas and wingman David Mackay, who moved into defence following Kelly’s injury against Essendon, as possible candidates to line up in the back half on Saturday.

Swingman Andy Otten also has the capacity to play at either end of the ground.

Pyke said it was pleasing to have options to cover Kelly’s absence without bringing in a like-for-like replacement.

“Some of it has been forced on us through injuries and events, but now we’ve got some options in terms of guys who can play multiple roles,” he said.

“It’s not necessarily just dealing with injuries, it’s also dealing with what the game throws at you and being able to move guys from half-forward to midfield, or wing or back.

“That’s what we want to try and build.”

The Suns, who will be without key defensive pillars Steven May (hamstring) and Rory Thompson (quad), have injury concerns of their own.

Eight-gamer Jack Leslie is likely to get the job on Adelaide captain Taylor Walker.

Kade Kolodjashnij (190cm) is the next-tallest Suns defender, while former South Adelaide big man Keegan Brooksby has been named as an emergency after being upgraded from the rookie list.

Walker kicked five first-half goals to help set-up his team’s win over the Bombers last weekend.

“If we’re able to move the ball effectively and get it in there to our forwards, we’ve seen they can be pretty dangerous,” Pyke said.

“Tex (Walker) was in good form last week … he really came out and imposed himself on the game and played a really strong game.

“Hopefully, that form continues Saturday night.’

The Crows are the highest-scoring team in the competition after four rounds.

Adelaide is ranked seventh (best) for points conceded, prompting suggestions during the week that the Crows were ‘too offensive’.

Pyke has been happy with his team’s defence, but said there was always room for improvement.

“We want to be a side, as I’ve said all along, that is strong in all the phases,” he said.

“Our defensive action is important because our defensive action starts up our ability to get the ball.

“I’d like to think our scoring is a result of some of the work we’re doing around the contest and some of the work we’re doing in our defence.”