Knights ponder protecting top duo for finals
FOOTBALL: With an outside chance of finishing as high as fourth for the finals, the Ipswich Knights have plenty to play for in Saturday's Queensland Premier League match at Bundamba.
Whether the sixth-placed Knights can achieve that depends on beating Southside Eagles and hoping Mitchelton and Rochedale lose their last regular season encounters.
Reflecting on the QPL season, head coach Andy Ogden said a top four finish would be a "just reward'' for his side, which has developed some fine under-20 talent, led by more experienced footballers.
However, with a playoff spot secure, Ogden said his main focus was taking his strongest possible squad into the first week of finals.
That means Ogden could start regular first-team players Emmanuel Peter and Ben Barratt on the bench as one more yellow card would rule them out for the following week.
Ogden said he and his coaching staff would confirm that decision before the game without any concerns the Knights could still get the job done against Southside Eagles.
"We have got everyone available,'' Ogden said, except for teenager Robbie Baker who headed to the US this week to start a four-year scholarship in Michigan.
"We've got good players to come in their place.
"At this stage of the year, you need a good collective squad, which is what we've got.''
Although the Knights only beat a hard-working Southside Eagles unit 1-0 in the first round, the home side is looking to consolidate its promising recent form to enhance its late bid to climb into fourth spot.
"It's the last game of the year for them (Southside) so they'll come full of confidence knowing it's a long time between drinks,'' Ogden said.
However, the Ipswich coach backed his side to push ahead with the finals looming.
The Knights under-18 (fourth) and under-20 (third) sides are also preparing for the finals in Saturday's earlier matches at Eric Evans Oval.
QPL: Saturday (6pm) - Ipswich Knights v Southside Eagles at Eric Evans Oval.
U18s play at 2pm with U20 match at 4pm.