SOUTHS player-coach Simon Vimpani is hopeful striker John Fernance will be back for their sudden-death Hunter Coast Men’s Premier League Hockey final against Maitland tomorrow.
Fernance has not played since losing three centimetres of the ring finger on his right hand after having it crushed by a deflected shot during a 2-1 win over The Entrance on August 5.
He has trained in the past week but said yesterday that he was still unsure of returning tomorrow for the minor semi-final at Newcastle International Hockey Centre.
“It’s still a bit sore. I’ll make a decision on Sunday,” Fernance said.
Vimpani said he would not be pressuring the seasoned goal scorer to play but was hopeful of having him back on board.
The Lions are in need of a boost after the loss of former Australian Country striker Sam Mould to a broken finger for the rest of the season.
Mould faces surgery on his little finger after damaging it in a fall two weeks ago.
Another noted Souths goal scorer, Jaden Ekert, returned last round after three weeks out with a hamstring strain.
Ekert scored four goals against Tigers in a 6-1 win, but it was not enough to stop The Entrance taking second place on goal difference.
Australian Country fullback Tristan Hunt came back in the final-round win after missing four weeks with a broken finger.
Kyle Bosworth has come back from a two-week overseas holiday in time for Souths’ finals run.
Vimpani said it was great to get senior players and goal-scoring firepower back, but the disrupted preparation had made the job difficult.
“We don’t have much time to bring it all together,” he said. “And last week it wasn’t the greatest. We’ve got to play a lot better than we have been if we want to get anywhere.”
Norths are on guard for an improved effort from The Entrance in the major semi-final at Broadmeadow.
The defending premiers flogged The Entrance 10-0 the last time they met, two weeks ago.
But Norths coach David Willott was sure the former leaders would be tougher in the grand final qualifier.
“They’ll definitely try something a bit different with us, but we’ve had some reasonable form coming into it, so were happy where we are,” Willott said. “But semi-finals are new comp and anything can happen.”
Both sides are expected to be at full strength.
In the Newcastle Women’s Premier League today, minor premiers Regals take on Souths in the major semi-final and Central meet Tigers in the minor semi-final at Broadmeadow.