Giants skipper set to return for historic final

GREATER Western Sydney is set to receive a massive boost for its debut NAB AFL Women's final against Melbourne on Saturday with captain Alicia Eva set to return from a foot injury.

The AFL's decision to compact the AFLW season due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic means the final two games of the regular season have been cancelled

A re-worked finals series will see the Giants (who were sitting in second place in conference A) face the Demons (third in Conference B) in a semi-final at Giants Stadium, with the loser eliminated. 

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Eva hasn't played for the Giants since the club's round four loss to Brisbane and was in a moon boot watching her side defeat Richmond in Wagga Wagga the following week, but the star midfielder looks ready to take on Melbourne. 

The skipper increased her training in the lead-up to last week's confidence-boosting win over Adelaide on the road and hit the track again this week. 

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GWS coach Alan McConnell told womens.afl that Eva, the most influential figure in the Giants' AFLW program both on and off the field, only has to pull up well from the team's main session on Thursday night to prove her fitness.

"Alicia ran pre-game last Sunday and trained fully on Tuesday night, so we expect her to play," he said. 

"She's really important to us and it's great for her." 

WATCH IT LIVE How to follow the AFLW this weekend

McConnell said ruckman Jess Allan, who was a late withdrawal with illness against the Crows, is also expected to come into the side, but longer-term concerns Nicola Barr (hamstring) and Yvonne Bonner (ankle) won't get up in time. 

"The situation doesn't help Nic and Yvonne, but I think they're genuinely still in the mix if we can go all the way through the finals," he said. 

McConnell said his team will briefly celebrate their achievement of making the finals for the first time in the club's history, but switching their focus from Geelong – the team they were originally fixtured to host this week – to the Demons is all they're worried about. 

"To be honest I didn't care what the new finals format looked like, I just wanted to know a) that we were playing; and then who we were playing so I could get on the bike (and start preparing)," he said.

"It's like any other week, albeit the circumstances are quite unique, you've just got to win."

The Giants clearly weren't affected by the lack of spectators at last week's game against Adelaide, and the coach said it wasn't an issue for him either. 

WATCH IT LIVE How to follow the AFLW this weekend

"I coached Fitzroy, remember?" he said with a laugh. 

"The truth is once the ball bounced last week, I was oblivious to the crowd.

"The girls actually said they found it easier to communicate on the ground so in that context it's probably a plus. 

"I guess it removes some of the hype that could come with a final, but it's not something we can control so we don't pay much attention to it."