Essendon champion Matthew Lloyd believes Collingwood midfielder Tom Mitchell should be worried about his position in the high-flying Pies side, despite coach Craig McRae saying Mitchell remains a required player in the team.
Lloyd was sceptical about McRae’s comments, after Mitchell was substituted out of their two-point win over Port Adelaide at half time.
“You wouldn’t be rapt in a big game, getting subbed out,” Lloyd told Nine’s Footy Classified on Wednesday night.
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It comes as McRae was honest about the possible selection dilemmas that face his side leading into the finals.
“The players know the heat’s coming if we stay injury free,” McRae said on SEN.
“I’m going to have some discussions with a lot of players in the coming weeks about where I see them.
“These are tough decisions and discussions we’re having right now. It’s difficult, good players are out.”
Lloyd went on to describe the extent of Collingwood’s midfield prowess, explaining that Mitchell may be out of favour as we reach the pointy end of the season.
”This … is the depth of it, Nick Daicos, (Jordan) De Goey, (Scott) Pendelbury, (Taylor) Adams, (Jack) Crisp, (Josh) Diacos. I think Mitchell is the one after that,” Lloyd said.
“I think it’s speed versus contest.”
Looking ahead to Friday night’s blockbuster against rivals Carlton, Lloyd was keen to see the make-up of McRae’s midfield.
“That’s a big decision I look forward to seeing against Carlton on Friday night. Does he (McRae) start with a (Oleg) Markov for speed?” he asked.
“Do you start with a contest player on the bench or a speed player on the bench?”
But Geelong champion Jimmy Bartel is convinced that Mitchell’s role is crucial come finals time.
“I think he was a victim of circumstance on the weekend. I know he was rested the week before,” Bartel told Footy Classified.
“I feel like Mitchell and Adams have a massive role to play when September comes.”
Magpies coach McRae was adamant that Mitchell’s spot in the side is still intact, despite external hesitation on his form.
“Had a good chat to Tom yesterday … other than that he’s an integral part of what we’re doing,” McRae said on Wednesday.
“We got him to the club to be a first possession clearance player.”
Eddie McGuire backed Bartel’s comments, adding that Mitchell would understand if he falls out of selection favour, for the greater good of Collingwood’s possible success.
“You’ve got to play for the team these days. If you’re getting the big money, you do what the coach says to win the match,” McGuire told Footy Classified.
It comes as Damien Barrett exclusively revealed that Collingwood is close to signing Nick Daicos on a huge deal that would see him remain at the Pies until 2029.
The Magpies face their biggest rivals, Carlton, on Friday night at the MCG.
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