NORTH Melbourne is hopeful but remains uncertain about whether it will regain defensive trio Scott Thompson, Marley Williams and Luke McDonald for its clash with Sydney at Blundstone Arena on Saturday night.
The Kangaroos, who are lacking experience in the back half, will wait on the fitness of veteran key backman Thompson (adductor) and flanker McDonald (knee) and the availability of Williams, who attended the funeral of a family member in Western Australia.
"If they're all fit they (will return). We think they're in our best team, but it's a matter of getting through training," Roos coach Brad Scott told reporters before training at Arden Street on Wednesday.
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"Unfortunately I can't shed any light on those guys.
"Marley, you'd think, would be available. I've probably got to have a one-on-one conversation with him about how he's feeling physically and mentally.
"Scotty and Luke will be tests. They'll do bits and pieces of training today, but we've got another day before we put the team in, so we'll see how they pull up tomorrow and then name the team."
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The encounter in Hobart will bring together two teams that have so far disappointed their fans with 2-6 records.
Weighing heavily in the Kangaroos' favour is their strong record at Blundstone Arena, where they have won their past five games.
These include a 59-point hammering of 2017 minor premier Adelaide and, in their past two outings, resounding wins over 2018 finalist Greater Western Sydney (43 points) and eventual premier West Coast (40 points).
However, the Roos dropped their most recent game against the Swans at the venue – by nine points in round 22, 2016 – when John Longmire's men were on their way to the Grand Final.
"We really love getting back down to Blundstone Arena – it's a place we love playing footy, the conditions are unique, it's a really unique football ground and we just feel at home there," Scott said.
"We've got unbelievable home-crowd support and we would have preferred to be down in Hobart earlier in the year.
"We've got this game plus another three down there (this season), so we're really looking to continue to build on the momentum that we've created down there in previous years."
If Sydney's superstar forward Lance Franklin is passed fit after missing three games with a hamstring issue, it will increase anxiety levels for the Roos.
In recent times the results of games between the two have seemingly swung on Franklin's availability.
When Franklin has played, North has defeated Sydney just once – back in the former Hawk's first game as a Swan in round four, 2014.
In their past eight meetings, the Roos have lost all six games in which Franklin has figured, and won the two he has missed – their 2015 semi-final (26 points) and at the SCG in round seven last year (two points).