Jenni McCluskey knows the road ahead is tough.
The Mooroopna coach has to plan for all three Shepparton sides in the final rounds of the season as the Cats face the most difficult run home of all.
But tough fixture aside, McCluskey believed her side could earn a finals spot, starting with a match against the Swans tomorrow.
But a big blow to Mooroopna’s chances has Victorian Netball League star Mia Fallon sidelined until the end of the regular season.
The supreme midcourt player fell over against Seymour before the bye and a wrist injury means she will miss four weeks.
‘‘She’s had an absolutely brilliant season, she’s been outstanding, so it’s a huge loss,’’ McCluskey said.
The star power of Monique Lenehan-Moustafa could also be absent tomorrow, as the goal attack has prior commitments.
The loss of the two players and their connection in attack could prove damaging, particularly with Swans captain Nat Simpson in career-best form.
As a result McCluskey was doing her best to convince Lenehan-Moustafa to make the trip to the Goulburn Valley from her Melbourne base.
‘‘If I can talk Mon into giving up her other commitments and get her down to play, we can really challenge the Swans, United’s another tough one and so are the Shepp Bears,’’ she said.
‘‘We’d be better prepared if Mia was playing, but I think with Kate (Fletcher) and Paigan Impey, their combination will be strong.
‘‘If we win the three, we can get a shot at the finals.’’
Impey will move into centre to replace Fallon, with talented basketballer Shelby Britten also in the mix.
Britten has been playing at the Cats in a brief return from competing in the United States, keeping fit by taking the court with Mooroopna.
‘‘She’s a superstar, she’s been playing B-grade after not being supposed to play this season,’’ McCluskey said.
‘‘She came back from America and was having a break and never trialled, but she put out a feeler and we gave her a B-reserve or a B-grade game, but she’s quite talented, so we might be able to have her (in A-grade), but this will be her last game (before going back overseas).’’
The Swans just pipped Mooroopna by a goal in round five, with McCluskey determined to make amends.
‘‘We could have won that game, I just had a couple of players who were slightly off form, I should have made some changes,’’ she said.
But the Swans entered last week’s bye having dropped a game they were favourites to win against Echuca.
Jana Bruinier’s side is only two points ahead of the seventh-placed Murray Bombers, needing to win to ensure a finals spot remains theirs and the coach was expecting yet another tight game against the Cats.
‘‘It will probably be another defensive game you’d assume, defensively they’re hard to score against and they’ve got a low total against them with Ash Lancaster and Maddie Wong such a fantastic combination,’’ she said.
‘‘All players will have to play really well and when Kate Jeffery is on for us in the midcourt, she’s a great connector between defence and attack.’’