North Melbourne coach Brad Scott has backed star ruckman Todd Goldstein to quickly make a badly-needed return to his best AFL form.
The All-Australian has been noticeably below par since hurting his knee in the round-10 loss to Sydney.
Part-time Port Adelaide ruckman Jackson Trengove crucially had his measure in last Saturday’s loss.
“He’s an All-Australian ruckman, isn’t he, so he’s held to a higher account than most, as he should be,” Scott said.
“No-one is more disappointed with poor performances individually than Goldy.
“His best form is just around the corner.”
It is no coincidence that the Kangaroos have also slid during Goldstein’s form dip, losing six of their last seven games.
One of the features of that slump has been a bad run with injury.
But Scott said Goldstein was now in full training.
He added fellow stars Jarrad Waite and Daniel Wells had pulled up well, having returned to the AFL last weekend from injuries.
After opening the season with a nine-game winning streak, there is now speculation that the ‘Roos remarkably could miss the finals.
Certainly Collingwood can smell blood ahead of Friday night’s massive game against North at Etihad Stadium.
Magpies coach Nathan Buckley said they must win to keep their slim top-eight hopes alive and they would approach the match as a final.
“I just see it as round 18 – it’s an important game, but they all are at this stage of the year,” Scott responded.
“It will be a pressurised environment.
“If that’s a finals-like atmosphere, then that’s a good thing.”
Scott confirmed key forward Drew Petrie would play against Collingwood.
Petrie is another prominent North player under scrutiny.
“It’s about the (forward) unit itself and the unit hasn’t functioned very well,” Scott said.
“Drew is the most experienced part of that.
“He knows that a lot falls to him.
“When he wasn’t contributing on the scoreboard in the first half of the year, I can’t recall there being a great level of criticism.”
Scott said North knew all about pressure, having played in the last two finals series, and is confident they will rally.
“At times in this really tough industry, you come across some inclement weather,” he said.
“But the weather always clears and we have to make sure that our response to that inclement weather is really solid and we stay the course.
“The worst thing we could do now is panic and set ourselves off course.”