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Trio on track for Friday

Lee Gaskin, AFL Media  May 16, 2018 10:35 AM

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 13: Jaidyn Stephenson of the Magpies is tackled by Kyle Hartigan of the Crows during the 2018 AFL Round 04 match between the Adelaide Crows and the Collingwood Magpies at Adelaide Oval on April 13, 2018 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by AFL Media)

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 13: Jaidyn Stephenson of the Magpies is tackled by Kyle Hartigan of the Crows during the 2018 AFL Round 04 match between the Adelaide Crows and the Collingwood Magpies at Adelaide Oval on April 13, 2018 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by AFL Media)

We've had some setbacks in terms of an availability viewpoint, it's created an opportunity for guys.

Adelaide skipper Taylor Walker, defender Kyle Hartigan and forward Riley Knight are on track for Friday night's clash with the Western Bulldogs at Adelaide Oval.

In his first game back from a hamstring injury, Walker injured his glute in last Saturday night's five-point loss to Port Adelaide.

"I expect he'll train fully, so he should be fine," Crows coach Don Pyke told reporters on Wednesday morning ahead of their training session.

Hartigan has missed the past three games with a hamstring injury, while Knight has been sidelined for two with hamstring tendinitis.

Hartigan, Knight, midfielders Sam Gibson (hamstring) and Curtly Hampton (groin) and defender Alex Keath (ankle) are available this week.

But Pyke said Gibson, Hampton and Keath would come back through the SANFL having had long injury layoffs.

"We won't bring in all five," Pyke said.

"Alex (Keath) and Sam (Gibson) haven't played all year so they'll play SANFL, and Curtly Hampton probably needs to play SANFL as well, he's been in and out with his groin problems.

"We expect those guys need some runs before they come back to the level."

The Crows currently have 14 players either injured or facing fitness tests this weekend.

"We've had some setbacks in terms of an availability view point, but it's created an opportunity for guys," Pyke said.

"We've seen some guys really step up. The wheel will turn.

"We've got five guys coming back this week, that's the start of it for me.

"They're back and available, so I expect in three weeks' time, we might end up with 40 guys available, at which point we're dealing with a different scenario."

There's still no timeline on the return of star midfielder Rory Sloane, who has a minor strain of the Lisfranc ligament in his foot.

"Nothing's really changed," Pyke said.

"He's returned back doing some light running later this week.

"As we said last week, we'll see how he pulls up."

Young forward Darcy Fogarty is likely to come into the side to replace Mitch McGovern, who will miss eight weeks with a high ankle sprain.

Fogarty, 18, was the No.12 overall pick in last year's draft and has booted four goals in his four games this season.

"He's a young guy who has come in and shown some capacity at the level, and it will be just how that looks for team balance and what we're looking for, and whether it's worth continuing to give him opportunities and see if he can progress," Pyke said.

"He's shown bits in games and he's got some growing and some developing to do, which we know as a first-year player.

"From a size viewpoint, he's probably the most similar size (to McGovern), it's a question of which way we want to go."

The Crows (5-3) are wary of an in-form Bulldogs side featuring ball magnet Jack Macrae, who last week equalled Ryan Griffen's club record of 47 disposals, that has won its last three games.

"Their last five weeks have been very good," Pyke said.

"They've got a quality midfield, really strong clearance side, No.1 for clearances in the competition and play that sort of style that is high-energy.

"Macrae is one of a number of guys – there's (Mitch) Wallis, there's (Marcus) Bontempelli, (Toby) McLean's been in really good form.

"It's a really strong challenge for us."