Mitch Norton and Matt Hodgson to bolster Perth Wildcats in NBL game against Cairns Taipans – PerthNow

Perth Wildcats vice-captain Mitch Norton has seized upon the cancellation of his team’s mid-week match against Adelaide and will return from a knee injury against Cairns on Friday after proving his fitness during training.
The Wildcats were scheduled to face Adelaide on Tuesday night and Norton would have watched the match from the sidelines.
But the cancellation of that game following a 36ers player testing positive for COVID-19 allowed Perth to add three practice sessions to the week., and Norton used them to convince fitness staff that he was ready to return from the knee injury he suffered in November.
“We weren’t planning to play him against Adelaide,” Wildcats coach Scott Morrison said.
“It gave him a chance to play full-court in practice. That was the last box that had to be checked off from the medical team’s standpoint. He showed well, so he got the green light.
“We had two full practices and we had light shooting before we left Adelaide. So we made the most of our time.”
Centre Matt Hodgson will also play after recovering from a calf injury. Hodgson injured his calf in the opening minute of the first game of the season. The pair’s return will give Morrison his strongest squad this season, with only Todd Blanchfield (knee) now unavailable.
The Taipans have also battled injuries and are without their captain Scott Machado until late January with an Achilles injury. Mirko Djeric (calf) is also sidelined.
Cairns have signed WA’s Marshall Nelson as an injury replacement player after his impressive NBL1 West season for Perth Redbacks.
The Wildcats beat Cairns by 23 points on December 5 and also defeated them during the pre-season.
Morrison said the change to the nation’s close contact rules would benefit sports teams now that one positive case will no longer force everyone into isolation.
But he said the team had adjusted well to the fixture drama.
“Everyone has handled it pretty well all things considered. It’s not the best way to start the trip,” he said.
“They’ve just got to suck it up and take it one day at a time. That’s been the message since before we left. There’s no excuses.
“This period of time that we’re away is going to be crucial for everyone in the league. So if we can do our best to minimise our exposure to COVID and do our best to stay focused on basketball, perhaps that will pay off for us in the post-season.”

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